Penne with Ham, Onion & Green Peas

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I have been craving pasta in the worst way this week! What is it about February??

It started on Sunday when I made a big pot of spaghetti with marinara and Italian sausage. We had friends over for dinner and I loved cooking up a big batch of sauce and then watching everyone go back for second helpings. Pasta is the perfect Sunday dinner for a hungry crowd. It’s also the perfect bowl of comfort when you are home alone and still craving pasta. Like I was. Last night.

What satisfied my craving? Penne with Ham, Onions & Green Peas held together with a “sauce” made of egg, pasta water, and parmesan cheese. Simple, satisfying, and just the right amount of salty. Ah, February. Ah, pasta.

 

Penne with Ham, Onion & Green Peas
 
The inspiration for this recipe comes from Mario Batali.
Author:
Recipe type: Main Dish
Serves: 2 or 3 as entree, 4 as a starter
Ingredients
  • 2 cups dry whole wheat penne pasta
  • 4 oz. (3/4 cup) diced ham
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • ¼ cup finely chopped white onion
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • kosher salt
  • coarsely ground black pepper
Instructions
  1. Whisk the eggs together in a small bowl and set aside.
  2. Bring 3 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot and add 1 Tbsp. kosher salt.
  3. Add the pasta to the water and cook until al dente.
  4. Meanwhile, heat a large sauté pan over medium high heat. Add 1 Tbsp. olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the diced ham and chopped onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until the ham and onion start to brown.
  5. Remove the pan from heat and stir in the peas.
  6. When the pasta is cooked, drain, reserving ¼ cup of the pasta water. Return the pasta to the pot, off the heat.
  7. Add 1 Tbsp. olive oil and 3 Tbsp. pasta water to the egg, and whisk to combine.
  8. Add the ham mixture to the pasta, then stir in the egg mixture and mix vigorously to slightly cook the eggs. Add a little more pasta water if necessary to loosen the "sauce".
  9. Stir in the parmesan cheese, season with pepper and serve immediately.

4 comments

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  3. Mary
    Just chatted with Joy and she encouraged me to write a bit about the Penne with Ham & Peas dish posted today. This happens to be my favorite pasta with cream dish. As a possible variation, I use prosciutto instead of american cured ham, torn in ribbons and added at the end with the cheese so it is warmed through but not “cooked” and although this does add a meatiness to it but not altogether a lot of flavor, I use pancetta is what use for the base during sauteing. I love the penne, but also love it on linguine or fettuccine and stacked like a little nest on the plate. The Italian name for the dish is Paglia e Fieno, which is translated to Straw and Hay. I am going to have to make this dish THIS week – it looks and tastes like a $1M and is rather quick for a mid-week splurge. Thanks for the inspiration.

    • MaryMiller says:

      Hi, Michelle –
      Thanks for sharing! The original recipe that inspired mine was Mario Batali’s Penne alla Papalina, which calls for prosciutto (sounds a lot like your Straw & Hay recipe). I subbed the ham because I wanted to caramelize it a little with the onions. Pancetta would be EXCELLENT in place of the ham… I LOVE pancetta. This only takes about 15 minutes to make, so definitely a good weeknight splurge. Great leftovers, too!

      Would you be willing to share your famous meatball recipe with A Passionate Plate? Some Saturday afternoon you should come cook with us!

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