Sarasota's Ham, Pea, Penne, in a Fontina Cheese Sauce

READY IN: 35mins
Recipe by SarasotaCook

This is a great way to use up leftover ham, some frozen peas and some pasta and you have an amazing quick dinner. Now I really think that a combination of the fontina cheese and the parmesan is what makes this good. You can use other pastas, but I happen to like the penne or the small penne. My favorite is to serve this with balsamic grilled portabello mushrooms and a good glass of red wine. NOTE: Using a fresh Tagliatelle or similar pasta would make this over the top.

Top Review by IngridH

I made this with tortellini and Gruyere instead of penne and Fontina, and was really pleased with the result. The sauce was rich and creamy, just thick enough to coat the pasta without feeling cloying, as some rich cream sauces can be. I loved it, and will definitely make again!

Ingredients Nutrition

  • 16 ounces penne pasta (I like a small ridged pasta, but you can also use a Parpadelle, or a Tagliatelle, it just depends on)
  • 1 12 cups baby peas (I just use the frozen ones)
  • 2 cups diced ham (you can use more or less if you like, I just use what I have on hand)
  • 3 slices bacon, diced
  • 1 small onion, cut in quarters and thin sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced (1 small clove or about 1/2 - 3/4 teaspoon)
  • 1 23 cups heavy cream (sometimes I keep a little extra cream and add some more add the end for a bit thinner sauce)
  • 1 cup Fontina cheese, grated
  • 12 cup parmesan cheese (1/4 for the sauce, 1/4 for a garnish)
  • 1 12 cups fresh breadcrumbs (use fresh slices of bread and either just chop with a knife or use a food processor)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • salt
  • pepper

Directions

  1. Bread Crumbs -- In a large sauce pan, which you will use for the bacon and finishing the dish, just toast up some bread crumbs. No butter or oil, just heat on medium until the bread toasts up. Once toasty and brown, just remove to a paper towel on the side. This will go in the pasta dish.
  2. Bacon -- Now, in that same saute pan, add the bacon and saute on medium heat until golden brown and crisp. I don't add additional oil, the bacon will give off enough grease on it's own. Just saute on medium so it doesn't burn. Remove to a plate lined with a paper towel to drain. Don't throw away those drippings.
  3. Onion -- In the pan with the bacon drippings, save about 1 tablespoon to saute the onion inches Just toss out the rest - you don't want too much grease. Add the onion, garlic and cook until tender. Add in the chopped ham and season with pepper. Hold off on the salt until later, the cheese you will add is salty so we don't want to over salt. Slowly add in the cream and cheese and stir until all melted and creamy. Add the peas and the bacon and cook just another minute on medium to medium low heat. You will add a little of the pasta water to thin it, so don't worry if it is very thick. You can also add a little more cream if you want, but the pasta water is what I prefer.
  4. Pasta -- Now if using fresh pasta, you know if cooks up in 1/2 the time. If you are using dried, just start the pasta about the same time you start the bacon. Just cook in salted water according to direction.
  5. Done -- Just finish the dish by adding in the parsley to the ham sauce and then the pasta and toss. If too thick, just add a little pasta water, but this is not meant to be a creamy sauce but just to coat the pasta, so don't make it too creamy.
  6. Serve -- Just top with the bread crumbs and toss ever so lightly and sprinkle on the remaining parmesan and Enjoy!

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