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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.
- 4 cups penne pasta, uncooked
- 1 cup peas, frozen petite
- 1 1⁄2 cups ham, chopped small
- 2 cups milk
- 4 tablespoons flour
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 5 -6 garlic cloves, chopped (or more!)
- 8 ounces cream cheese, lite is wonderful in this
- 1⁄2 cup parmesan cheese
- 1 -2 teaspoon salt (to taste)
- fresh pepper (to taste)
- 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!