Sunday, June 13, 2010

Quick Comfort Food: Fiori With Ham and Peas in Cream Sauce

As I've mentioned before, pasta is pretty much my go-to dish, and frozen peas are a staple. The simple one-pot, one-bowl meal I made tonight has some elements in common with Pasta With Peas and Bacon, and I think it serves to illustrate what a wide range of everyday pasta dishes you can make with a mix of rotating and standby ingredients.

This probably won't take more than 20 minutes, start to finish. You can use any pasta you like, but I thought fiori (Italian for “flower”), pictured at right, were awfully cute and would soak up a cream sauce nicely. (Incidentally, an image search for “fiori pasta” yielded this work of genius.) About three-quarters of a 1-lb. box of pasta serves two generously, although it's annoying to have a small amount left over, so you could always make the whole box and reserve some plain cooked noodles to add to salads or soup.

While your salted pasta water boils, melt a few tablespoons of butter in a saucepan over low heat. Add a few cloves of minced (finely chopped) garlic, stir, and sprinkle in about a tablespoon of flour. Use a whisk to mix the flour and butter around for a few minutes until it turns beige and forms a kind of paste; this is your roux.

Pour in about a quarter cup of heavy cream followed by half a cup of milk, whisking as you go. (If you don't have a whisk, invest in one—they're cheap.) Turn up the heat to medium-high and let the mix get vigorously bubbly but NOT quite to a boil.

Turn down the heat to medium and whisk in about half a cup of grated Parmesan. Add salt and pepper to taste. I also like to grate in a pinch of fresh nutmeg, but it's optional.

Stir in about a quarter pound of ham that has been diced into half-inch cubes (I ask the supermarket-deli-counter guy to just give me a thick slab instead of slices and chop this up; you could also use prosciutto this way); about half a yellow or red pepper, likewise diced; and about half a cup of frozen peas. (Mushrooms would be good if you don't like peppers.) I also added a couple tablespoons of the parsley pesto I made last week: again, optional.

Turn the heat down to medium-low and let this cook for 5-10 minutes (ideally, your fiori will be done cooking by the time this is done; if not, you can always turn off the burner and reheat the sauce when the pasta is ready). If the sauce cooks down too much and gets too thick, whisk in a little more milk, bearing in mind the you-can-add-but-not-take away principle.

Toss the cooked pasta with the sauce, ladle into bowls, garnish with grated Parmesan if you like, and you're good to go!

1 comment:

  1. It was kick ass Kitty's boyfriend rob is posting this.