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
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.
Penne with Smoked Ham, Peas and Mint
- 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
- Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.