Ten minutes? Seriously? Yes. The trick here is to saute the vegetables and ham in one pan while the pasta cooks in another. By the time the pasta is done, all you need to do is scoop out the noodles and dump them into the pan with the ham and vegetables.
If you want to shorten the cooking time even more, precook pasta and store in the fridge. That should take the stress out of feeding unexpected holiday guests too. By using precooked pasta, the cooking time for this dish will be shorter than ten minutes. Here’s how.
Boil your pasta as usual but undercook it by a minute or two. That’s to make sure that the noodles won’t get overcooked when tossed in the sauce later.
Drain the pasta, dump into a mixing bowl and, while hot, add butter or olive oil (depending on what sauce you intent to toss the noodles in later). Toss throughly to make sure that every strand of noodle is coated with oil.
Cool the pasta, transfer to a covered container and keep in the fridge. It will stay good for up to four days. It may stay good longer but we use precooked pasta within four days so that’s the figure I can safely recommend.
To use the precooked pasta, take the container out of the fridge while you heat your sauce. Add the noodles to the simmering sauce, toss and cook just until heated through.
The sauce is a simple affair. While it is the cream that gives the dish a lovely richness, it is the ham and vegetables that provide the flavor base.
Among the three vegetables in this dish, carrot takes longest to cook. So, start by gently cooking your carrot in butter. Medium to medium-low heat so that the butter does not scorch. A few minutes are all that the carrot needs to start softening. Even before the carrot is fully cooked, add the ham and toss until heated through.
If your ham has a generous amount of fat, you’ll want to wait a bit to allow that fat to liquefy. Add bell pepper and cook for a minute in the combined ham fat and butter. Then, toss in the peas.
When the peas are heated through, add your undercooked pasta and toss thoroughly. Pour in the sour cream and cook, tossing, until the the dish has lost its soupy appearance. That happens after your undercooked pasta has soaked up most of it, and the remainder has thickened sufficiently to coat the noodles.
Creamy Ham and Veggies Pasta
- 120 grams pasta
- 2 tablespoons butter
- ⅓ cup chopped carrot
- 2 cups chopped ham
- ⅓ cup chopped bell pepper
- ⅓ cup sweet peas
- ¾ to 1 cup sour cream - depending on how saucy you want your pasta dish
- Cook the pasta in lightly salted water.
- While the pasta cooks, melt the butter in a another pan and saute the carrot for a minute to start softening it.
- Add the chopped ham and cook, stirring often, until the ham has rendered a little fat.
- Add the chopped bell peppers, stir and cook for a minute.
- Stir in the peas and cook for another minute.
- Drain the pasta and dump into the pan with the ham and vegetables. Toss to coat the noodles with the mixture of butter and ham fat.
- Pour in the sour cream and cook, tossing, for a minute or so.
- Add pepper, toss, taste and add salt, if needed.
- Serve your creamy ham and veggies pasta sprinkled with chopped parsley.