Penne with Smoked Ham, Peas, and Mint

Refreshingly Spring! Fresh mint, a classic pairing with peas, brightens this creamy pasta dish. This melodious and quick meal came from Fine Cooking’s Make It Tonight series by Jessica Bard. Many of our recipes tend toward the spicy side of life, but this one exudes a mellower composite of flavors without being bland.

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The little mezze penne size made for a perfect mouthful without screaming pasta. And our ham was not smoked and weighed in at closer to over a half pound. No leftover ham? The recipe would work fine with one (or two) of those prepackaged slices. Or try a thick slice of pancetta to amp up the flavor.

Disappointingly the grocery stores weren’t carrying fresh peas, even though it was the height of Spring 😦 But the frozen variety worked quite nicely, just make sure to thaw them ahead of time. And I made a birdbrain move while shopping when I grabbed the feta cheese because I unknowingly picked up fat free, so to compensate, we also included some grated parm. All-in-all, we really liked this dish.

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Penne with Smoked Ham, Peas and Mint

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

  • Kosher salt
  • 2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced lengthwise
  • 1/4 lb. sliced smoked ham, cut crosswise into 1-inch strips
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/8 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1-1/2 cups fresh green peas (from 1-1/2 lb. peas in the pod) or thawed frozen peas
  • 1/2 lb. dried mini penne
  • 2-1/2 oz. feta, crumbled (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh mint

Directions

  1. Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until browned, about 3 minutes. Add the ham and cook, stirring, until heated through, about 1 minute.
  3. Add the heavy cream and nutmeg and bring to a boil. Add the peas, turn the heat down to medium, and simmer, stirring often, until the peas are cooked through, about 4 minutes. Remove from the heat.
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  4. Cook the pasta according to package directions until al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water, drain the pasta, and return it to the pot.
  5. Toss with the sauce, half of the cheese, and half of the mint, adding some of the reserved pasta water, if needed, to make a creamy sauce. Put all into a large pasta platter bowl or divide among 4 plates and top with the remaining cheese and mint.
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