Saturday, February 21, 2009

Ham, Peas, & Pesto Pasta

It's difficult to admit, but out family wastes a lot of food. Fruits and vegetables bought with the best of intentions but left to rot in the bin, forgotten lunch meat, half-used containers of sour cream all make the journey from the fridge to the trash can. So, I decided a while back to waste less food for environmental and economical reasons. I also knew that using ingredients already on hand would force me to flex my creativity and in the long run make me a better cook.

This dish is a result of one of those evenings staring into the fridge and pantry trying to decide to what I could make without running to the grocery store. Some leftover spiral ham from the holidays stared back at me and that became my starting point. I knew that ham and peas worked together and pesto and peas complemented one another. These three ingredients tossed with pasta, cream, and Parmesan cheese and Voila - dinner! I recently made this dish again using pre-chopped ham from the store. It was still good, but the spiral ham that I had glazed with apricot-mustard sauce provided a much better flavor. I think some toasted pine nuts would also be good for some crunch and texture.

Ham, Peas, & Pesto Pasta

8 ounces pre-cooked, ham chopped into bite-size chunks
1/2 pound uncooked short pasta (bowtie or penne)
4-5 tablespoons pesto
1 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
salt and pepper to taste

Boil pasta. Heat ham in a large skillet over medium heat. Stir in pesto. Add peas to pasta water just before pasta is cooked. Add cream to ham and pesto mixture. Add pasta and peas to skillet along with a few tablespoons of pasta water. Finish by stirring in freshly grated Parmesan and seasoning with salt and pepper.
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