This penne – so easy, so cheesy – is a great use of leftover ham. My 7 year old adores ham, and so we’ve been roasting them more regularly than we used to – it turns out they’re about as low-maintenance as dinners get, and provide perfect leftovers for school lunches, pastas and soup.
I’m a fan of big bowls of cheesy pasta, especially when everything is tossed together in one go, and you can just dish up a big steamy scoop for everyone at the table. This is easy enough to make in about ten minutes – the sauce comes together while the pasta boils. The recipe comes from chef and SAIT Culinary Arts instructor Michael Allemeier– it’s a little something he developed for the Dairy Farmers of Canada. I’m grateful for it. What kid doesn’t love pasta, ham, cheese and peas?
1 lb (500 g) penne pasta
olive or canola oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2-3 garlic cloves, crushed
a big pinch of dried chili flakes
1 cup diced ham
3 cups sliced button mushrooms
2 cups heavy (whipping) cream
2 cups peas (fresh or frozen)
1 1/2 cups Canadian smoked cheddar cheese, or aged Gouda
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
Salt and black pepper
1. In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook penne according to package directions until tender, but firm. Drain and set aside.
2. Meanwhile, in a large, heavy skillet, heat a drizzle of oil over medium heat. Add onions and cook, stirring for about 3 minutes or until tender and fragrant. Add garlic and chili flakes and cook, stirring for 30 seconds or until fragrant. Add ham and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring for 3 minutes or until water is starting to release from mushrooms. Increase heat to high and cook, stirring for about 5 minutes longer or until water is evaporated and mushrooms brown lightly.
3. Pour in cream and bring to a simmer, stirring often (don’t boil it). Reduce heat and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes or until slightly reduced. Stir in peas and heat through (if using fresh peas, simmer for 2 to 3 minutes or until tender).
4. Add drained pasta and cheese to pot and stir to mix well. Stir in parsley and lemon juice. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately. Serves 6.