Monday, February 22, 2010

Pasta with Ham, Peas and Cream

When I was a student in Paris, many years ago, I developed an appreciation for simple whole, fresh. local, scrumptious food. The flavor of a fresh egg and good butter. The sweet simplicity of a plate of pasta with creme fraiche and emmentaler. Eggs cooked in butter. Fresh greens, a crisp radish with butter. A boiled egg with mayonnaise. Potato pie with a garlicky vinaigrette on the salad. A baguette fresh from the boulangerie.

Over the years that have passed since those days of sublime subsistence on a student budget, the quality of food available in the US has vastly improved. Small farms are blossoming. I am fortunate to live in a place where much of our food, especially, milk, cheese, eggs, ham, beef and vegetables come from right down the road and is organic.

When the days are cold and long, my body wants something substantial and sumptuous and scrumptious to eat. On those days when I find myself alone at dinner time in winter, I make this pasta with ham and peas:

The sauce can be made while the pasta is cooking. I like to use bow ties or spaghetti for this.

nob of butter ~ unsalted
drizzle of olive oil
garlic, 3 or 4 cloves
onion, 1 medium
black forest ham, a few thin slices chopped up
peas ( I use frozen unless it's spring)
mushrooms (optional)
Parmesan cheese (also good with Emmentaler)

Warm the saute pan, drizzle the olive oil, add butter. When butter is slightly bubbling, add garlic and onions. Saute. Add thyme. Add mushrooms. Saute. Add ham. Add peas. Add cream. When it's warm, serve over pasta and add Parmesan (or Emmentaler) cheese.

Goes well with a plate of fresh greens. And a glass of wine.


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