Sigh. I officially dub this the week of ruined food. This creamy pasta from Rachel's blog came out fantastic. It was the contents of our spare basement fridge/freezer that lost the battle. I came home from work excited to make this delicious-sounding pasta. I got cooking and then ran down to the basement to get a bag of frozen peas. I opened the freezer and discovered that at some point in the last few days we'd blown a fuse down there and the refrigerator has been off. EVERYTHING inside was ruined. And there was a lot - a 6 lb bag of chicken breasts, two dozen Lean Cuisines, bags of frozen veggies, butter and cream cheese, coffee creamer, yogurt...oh the humanity.
While silently weeping over the huge amount of money that was just wasted, Joe and John tossed everything while I went back upstairs to try to modify our dinner that was simmering away on the stove. I was sad to lose the peas (I LOVE peas) and I had no other green veggies on hand. I did have some of John's homegrown tomatoes on the counter though so I chopped those up and tossed them in with the ham. We sat down to eat still depressed about the loss of all that food, but this pasta definitely lifted our spirits. It is SO good - light and creamy but so full of flavor. The ham is a great addition and a nice change from our usual chicken or beef. We enjoyed this with a loaf of oatmeal bread I got from Whole Foods and ate our troubles away.
And no one minded that there were no peas, especially Roger. He thought it was irresistible anyway!
Creamy Ham Fusseli
1 cup part skim ricotta cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tbsp butter, cut into 8 pieces
1 lb thick sliced ham, diced
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 lb pasta (I used whole wheat fusseli)
1 large tomato, diced (or 2 cups frozen peas if your freezer is working!)
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice (half of one lemon squeezed)
Bring 4 quarts of water to boil for the pasta. Combine the ricotta, Parmesan, butter, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, in a serving bowl large enough to hold the pasta. 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. Cook the onions in the oil until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 15 seconds.
(I cooked the onions first in just a tiny bit of olive oil and some cooking spray, then added in the ham and garlic. The tomatoes went in last for just a few minutes to soften them up. If you're using peas, follow the directions as written.)
Remove from heat and add to the ricotta mixture, stir to mix well. 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. Reserve 3/4 cup of the pasta cooking water and then drain the pasta and peas. Whisk the lemon juice and 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta cooking water into the ricotta mixture until smooth. Add the pasta 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.