Every year, for the last 30 years at least, my parents and the neighbors on their small cul-de-sac throw a holiday party. The party used to be the progressive sort—appetizers at one house, the main at another, dessert and coffee at another.
These days, given that most of the revelers are now in their 80s, we keep the festivities to one house. It's always a lot of fun, with plenty of stories both old and new, told or retold with great relish each year.
As often the case with gatherings such as this, you are never quite sure how many people you will have showing up. It's the holidays, which means that friends and relatives will cancel or appear at the last minute. So even if you know for sure that certain people are coming, you're not entirely sure about their companions, and neither are they.
Are we having 14 people over? Or 20? This is why that in addition to the enchiladas I brought to our recent neighborhood holiday party I also brought a glazed ham. The great thing about a ham, is that if it doesn't get eaten, you have lots of wonderful ham for leftovers—ham sandwiches, ham salad, ham soup, and this quick and easy creamy pasta with ham and peas.
This pasta dish couldn't be easier and comes together as quickly as it takes to boil the pasta. It's also delicious. Peas and ham are a classic pairing for a good reason. Add a little garlic, some Parmesan, pepper, and lemon zest, toss with the pasta and you're there!
Pasta with Ham and Peas
- 3/4 pound fusili pasta
- 2 Tbsp butter
- 3 garlic cloves, minced (about 1 Tbsp)
- 1 1/2 cups diced ham
- 1 1/2 cups frozen peas
- 1/2 cup cream
- 1 cup of pasta cooking water (reserved from cooking the pasta)
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
Cook the pasta
Heat 4 quarts of water and 2 Tbsp salt in a large pot for the pasta. Once the water starts to boil, add the pasta and cook at a rolling boil, uncovered, until al dente, cooked through, but still a little firm to the bite (the low end of the cooking times given on the package). Drain, reserving 1 cup of the pasta cooking water.
Heat butter, add garlic, add ham and peas
While you are cooking the pasta, heat the butter in a medium skillet on medium heat until melted. Add the minced garlic and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the ham and the frozen peas.
Add pasta water, cream, Parm, zest, salt, pepper to make sauce
Stir in 1 cup of the pasta cooking water which will help thaw the peas. Stir in 1/2 cup of cream, Parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, and lemon zest.
Toss pasta with sauce to serve
When the pasta is ready, toss it with the sauce in a serving bowl and serve.