Saturday, February 28, 2009

Creamy Ziti with Peas and Ham

Although my dinner didn't turn out quite as creamy as Rachel's, I am still glad that I cooked this dinner from Culinary Kicks. I really love the taste of ham and peas together, and, well, if you haven't figured out yet that I am in desperate need of a 12-step program for pasta-holics, then we have a problem.

I think next time I would reserve a little extra cooking water, or perhaps add a little bit of cream. But other than that, this dinner was really good.

Creamy Ziti with Peas and Ham
(adapted from America's Test Kitchen)
  • 1 cup part skim ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 tbsp butter, cut into 8 pieces
  • 4 ounces thick sliced ham, diced
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 lb small pasta (I used mini ziti, the recipe called for mini shells)
  • 2 cups frozen peas
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice (half of one lemon squeezed)
1. Bring 4 quarts of water to boil for the pasta.

2. Combine the ricotta, Parmesan, butter, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, in a serving bowl large enough to hold the pasta.

3. Cook the ham in the oil in a 12 inch skillet until the ham is cooked through and browned. Drain onto a plate lined with paper towels, reserving the oil.

4. Cook the onions in the oil until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 15 seconds. Remove from heat and add to the ricotta mixture, stir to mix well.

5. When the water is boiling, stir in 1 tbsp salt and the pasta. Cook stirring often, until the pasta is almost tender, but still a little firm to the bite. Add the peas during the final 30 seconds of the pasta cooking.

6. Reserve 3/4 cup of the pasta cooking water and then drain the shells and peas. Whisk the lemon juice and 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta cooking water into the ricotta mixture until smooth. Add the shells and peas and toss to coat. Add the reserved ham, and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Save the remaining 1/4 cup pasta cooking water to loosen the sauce before serving.


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