Need luscious comfort food in a hurry? Pasta to the rescue!
This dish cooks so quickly that it’s ideal for weeknight dinner. But it’s tasty enough for weekend company, too.
So whenever you make this, buon appetito!
Recipe: Pasta with Peas, Prosciutto, and Cream
Peas, prosciutto, and pasta are a classic combo. The sauce is usually cream based (as ours is here), though the dish is also good with a simple tomato sauce.
Dried pasta and frozen peas are pantry staples. Cream and prosciutto aren’t, but we’re lucky enough to have some left over from the holidays. So we put them to good use in this recipe.
This dish is quite similar to our Creamy Pasta with Asparagus and Ham. Our inspiration for both recipes was Marcella Hazan’s Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking.
Prep time for this dish is about 5 minutes. Total cooking time (including the time it takes for the pasta water to boil) is no more than 15 minutes.
This recipe yields about 2 main-course servings or 4 starters. You can easily be double or triple it if you’re feeding a crowd.
- ~1 tablespoon kosher salt (for seasoning the pasta cooking water)
- 6 to 8 ounces dried pasta (we prefer a sturdy shape like penne or farfalle; see Notes)
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 to 3 ounces prosciutto, cut into thin slices or fine dice
- ~½ cup heavy cream (to taste; see Notes)
- ~1 cup frozen peas (see Notes)
- ½ to ¾ ounce grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese (about ½ cup, packed tightly)
- salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste (optional; see Notes)
- extra grated Parmigiano Reggiano for garnish (optional; see Notes)
- Fill a large cooking pot with water (use a container that holds about 4 quarts) and place it on the stovetop to boil. When the water comes to a boil, add salt to taste. Add the pasta and set a timer for 5 minutes (or about 2 minutes before the pasta is likely to be done; we find that penne and farfalle usually cook in around 7 to 8 minutes).
- Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large frying pan. When the butter is melted and hot, add the prosciutto and sauté for 2 minutes. Add the cream, then continue to cook until the cream is reduced by about a third.
- Your timer will probably be going off about now. Add the frozen peas to the pasta, then continue cooking until the pasta is done to your taste (we like ours al dente).
- Pour the pasta and peas into a colander to drain. Then add the drained pasta and peas to the frying pan. Toss with the cream and prosciutto, then add the grated cheese. Toss again. Taste, then season with salt and/or freshly ground black pepper if you wish (see Notes).
- Toss the ingredients a final time, then plate the dish. You may want to offer grated Parmigiano Reggiano at table for those who like to sprinkle a bit more over their pasta.
- Exact quantities aren’t critical in this recipe, so adjust to your taste. But don’t overdo it with the cream – the pasta and other ingredients should be lightly coated, not swimming in sauce.
- We sometimes add a diced shallot and sauté it for a minute before adding the chopped prosciutto in Step 2. This adds more depth of flavor.
- We typically don’t add salt and pepper in Step 4, preferring to do so at table.
- Freshly ground black pepper is terrific with this dish. We usually don’t add more salt, though – we think the prosciutto provides enough.
- Speaking of salt: We use kosher salt for all our cooking. It’s less salty by volume than regular table salt (the crystals are larger and more irregular, so they pack a measure less tightly). If you’re using table salt, start with about half the amount we suggest. But always season to your taste, not ours.
- BTW, adding salt to the cooking water in Step 1 helps season the pasta.
- We like to use a hearty pasta shape when we make this dish. We often use farfalle (bowties), though tubular shapes like penne work well too. But you could use spaghetti or any other shape you fancy.
- We typically use 3 ounces of dried pasta for each main-course serving, 2 ounces for each starter. But adjust the quantity to your appetite.
- We like to use frozen peas in this dish because they’re good quality – and it’s so easy to cook them in the pasta water (they need just a couple of minutes). Plus, we always have some on hand.
- About Parmigiano Reggiano: We recommend buying wedges of the imported stuff that you have to grate – its flavor is superior to most domestic brands. Stay away from the already-grated stuff that comes in containers (unless you like the taste of grated cardboard).
- You could also consider using Pecorino Romano. We think its flavor is a bit too sharp for this dish, but you may disagree.
“Splendido!” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs. “Hard to beat this flavor combo.”
“Pasta-bly the best dish we’ve had so far this year,” I said.
“Your jokes keep getting more fusilli,” said Mrs K R. “As in screwed up.”
“Hey, I’m tortellini on a roll,” I said. “Just call me a saucy guy.”
“I’d offer you a penne for your thoughts,” said Mrs K R. “But I’d expect change back.”
Pasta la vista, baby.
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