Friday, May 9, 2008

Ham and peas, if you please

The weather has been frustrating in Seattle of late. One minute the sun is out, the birds are singing and I think, "finally! Summer." Then 2 hours later the clouds appear and the temperature drops 20 degrees.

It's like a tease.

I've stopped hoping for summer. Instead I've retreated to comfort food. The other night I was rummaging around in the fridge and remembered the coppa I had bought at da Pino and all of a sudden knew the perfect meal: pasta with ham, onions, cream and peas.

My roomate in college (Martina) was italian and used to make this when we had leftover ham. All pasta is comfort food in my world, but this was the ultimate. Creamy and rich with pork flavor from the ham, but with the punch of peas to accent it. Luckily it's also easy and fast (like 20 minutes, no lie).

Just one note....don't be tempted to use cheap ham. Most of the flavor in this dish comes from the ham. Make this when you have leftover ham from easter, not when you're trying to use up that stuff from the deli. You could, of course, always use prosciutto. ;)

Pasta with Ham, Cream and Peas
(adapted from Epicuruios 2002)
makes 2 hungry-man-size servings

4 ounces ham, cut into slivers (~1inch x 1/4 inch)
1/2 bag frozen peas
1 sweet onion, fine dice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 bag pasta (something meaty, like penne or orecchiette)
1/2 cup half and half
2 Tbls butter
1 tsp olive oil
parmigiano reggiano

Place pot of water on stove, add good amount of salt (like a tablespoon). When boiling, add in pasta. Cook until al dente (depends on your pasta).

In the meantime, melt butter in a medium size saute pan over medium high heat and add olive oil. When hot, add in chopped onion. Saute until translucent and soft. Then add garlic, saute ~30 seconds more. Add frozen peas and 2 tbs of water. Cook a few minutes. Add ham. Cook a few minutes. Add half and half and cook ~5 minutes until it all comes together. Season with salt and pepper. Mix with pasta and top with grated reggiano.

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