Creamy Penne Pasta With Ham and Peas

"I tried to copy a wonderful dish I had at a small local Italian restaurant and this one turned out WONDERFUL (for a lot less money too!) The flavors are excellent and it's a totally new way to use up leftover ham. The crispy ham reminds me of pancetta. This is a very forgiving recipe and many different vegetables can be added to your liking, try sauteed zucchini with the peas, or mushrooms, broccoli, etc."
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Ready In:




  • Bring large pot of water to boil and add pasta, cooking to al dente.
  • Add peas last 2-3 minutes to pasta.
  • Scoop out 1 cup pasta water, then drain, and place in a large serving dish.
  • Whisk flour into milk (or shake together in a jar) till mixed well.
  • In skillet, pour olive oil in and add ham, cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally until ham is crispy. Remove to paper towel to drain.
  • In sauce pan, melt butter (or use more olive oil) and saute garlic over medium low for about 2-3 minutes (if you love garlic, feel free to add more!).
  • Whisk in milk/flour mixture and add chipped cream cheese, whisking till melted into sauce smoothly. Add Parmesan cheese and whisk till incorporated.
  • In large dish with pasta and peas, toss in crispy ham, and any other vegetables you want (optional).
  • Pour sauce over pasta and mix, pouring in pasta water till nice and creamy.
  • Top with more parmesan and fresh ground pepper.
  • serve immediately with tossed salad and garlic bread. YUM!

Questions & Replies

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  1. This was AWESOME. I added chicken and cut them up to 1 inch pieces and added that with the ham. I didn't realize that my milk was used up so i used half/half which the pasta water came in handy for that to thin it out. And I had frozen peas and carrort instead of just peas. The carrots added a little pop of color. This is certainly a keeper!
  2. I had some frozen cheese ravioli,left over ham and nuefchatel cheese. et voila! soooo good. I didn't change anything else, other than using some left over condensed milk to the mixture of milk and flour.
  3. DH and I loved this and was just as good the next day warmed up. He felt it matched/surpassed our favorite Italian restaurant dish. Really no changes though may throw in some pine nuts next time - Really a keeper and will do again - cooking the ham does make a big difference - be sure and do that
  4. I had leftovers from a spiral cut ham and this was a great way to use it up. Quite good on its own it could use a little something to make it really good, but I couldn't figure out what that was.
  5. Prepared 1/2 -- DH and I don't always agree on "degree of flavor", so I made this primarily for me. Had ham slices from family reunion, and crisped the cubed pieces with a minced slice of red onion, and roasted garlic. Bowing to the tastebuds of the Master, I added @ 2 Tbsp. white worcestershire, and additional white pepper. I thoroughly enjoyed it -- DH shrugged, said it needed some sharp cheddar ! I will add that to the leftovers for him ! Thanks, Aurora -- this was very satisfying.



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