Sorry for my tardiness – I’ve been busy doing Very Important Things, like having lunch at Michael Allemeier‘s house, drooling over his Le Creuset collection, getting a few of his secret stash of wild strawberries to plant in my own garden, and trying to not let him see my knife skills.
(Although my belief is that if you can get an onion into pieces without taking any bits of your fingers with it, that totally counts as knife skills.)
When I arrived at his house yesterday, he was proofing bread in his dishwasher. Oh yes. At the very end, when it’s hot and steamy, he set two unbaked loaves on a board on the top rack. The heat! The steam! The brilliance! Why didn’t I think of that?
He bakes bread every week, using a starter named Jenny that lives in his fridge. Another story.
This penne – so easy, so cheesy – and a great use of leftover ham. We’ve been roasting hams on a semi-regular basis since the night W requested one as a bedtime snack. Turns out they’re about as low-maintenance as dinners get, and provide sandwich filler and leftovers for things like this pasta and this 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. It was easy enough to make in about ten minutes at six AM for BT – the sauce comes together while the pasta boils. This is Michael’s recipe – it’s something he developed for the Dairy Farmers of Canada.
Penne with Ham, Mushrooms & 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
In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook penne according to package directions until tender, but firm. Drain and set aside.
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.
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).
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.