I pulled the heel from our last ham out of the freezer the other day. I cut the ham into pieces, removing the grizzly bits and fat and setting them aside for bone broth. I ended up with 3 cups of beautifully diced ham to play with. I’d been in the mood for a creamy pasta dish. Ham would work well with the baby bella mushrooms I also had on hand. Add a few vegetables and we’d have dinner.
I started digging through the pasta cupboard. Shells? Bowties? Penne? Nah.. rotini! Curly little pieces that would be cute with the diced ham and sliced mushrooms. Maybe some peas for color! I brought a pot of water to boil and cooked the rotini until it was al dente.
While the pasta cooked I melted 4 tablespoons of butter in my large nonstick skillet and sautéed the mushrooms until they were turning golden brown.
I added a small onion I’d diced and continued to cook the mushrooms and onion until the onion was also turning lightly brown. I added a teaspoon of minced garlic and let it cook another minute.
I added 2 cups of diced ham and a cup of frozen peas to the skillet and let them cook until they were heated through, 3-4 minutes.
I added another 4 tablespoons of butter to the skillet and cooked until it was melted. I added 4 tablespoons of flour and stirred until the vegetables and ham were coated. I let the contents of the skillet cook, stirring often, until the flour lost its raw flavor, about 5 minutes.
I added 2 cups of milk and 1 cup of heavy cream, stirring until the sauce began to thicken. We use 1% milk and I wanted it a little richer, hence the addition of cream. If you use whole milk you might want to omit the cream and use 3 cups of milk.
I added 8 ounces of halved grape tomatoes and stirred well. I taste tested my sauce and added a good amount of salt and pepper to taste. The sauce was nice and thick and ready for the pasta.
My pasta was done and drained, reserving some of the cooking liquid in case I needed more liquid in my pasta. I stirred the pasta into the skillet, then added 1/2 cup of shredded Parmesan.
I let the dish cook several more minutes to absorb the sauce and added about a cup more of the pasta water when it got a little dry.
The ham and mushroom pasta was ready to serve! The mushrooms added an absolutely delicious touch to the creamy ham pasta. The sauce, with all that butter, was a rich slightly cheesy goodness. The sauce tied the rest together in a very satisfying meal. We had the leftovers another night and were equally pleased with the flavors and textures. There’s one more meal worth of pasta hiding in the fridge and I hope to claim it before my P.S.!
Creamy Ham and Mushroom Rotini
- 1 lb box rotini; prepared according to directions for al dente (save several cups of pasta water)
- 8 ounces mushrooms; sliced (I used baby bellas)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 8 tablespoons butter; divided
- 1 small onion; diced
- 1 teaspoon garlic; minced
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 1 1/2 cups ham; diced
- 4 tablespoons flour
- 2 cups milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- salt and pepper to taste
- 8 ounces grape tomatoes; halved
- 1/2 cup Parmesan; shredded
Add the diced onion and continue to fry until the onions are also lightly browned around the edges. Stir in the garlic and cook for another minute.
Add the ham and peas to the skillet and heat through, 2-3 minutes.
Place the other 4 tablespoons of butter into the skillet and when melted, stir in the 4 tablespoons of flour to coat. Cook and stir for 5 minutes to remove the raw flour flavor.
Slowly stir in the milk and cream until the sauce is smooth and beginning to thicken. Stir in the tomatoes and heat for several minutes. Taste test for seasoning, adding salt and water as necessary.
Add the drained pasta and stir well. Add shredded Parmesan and continue to stir. If pasta ends up dry, add pasta water, a little at a time.
Taste test for seasoning, adding salt and pepper as needed.