Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Creamy Ziti with Peas and Ham

My mom came over the other day and left one of her cookbooks here for me to look at. The America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook. Its a compilation of 1200 recipes that have been tested with different and sometimes mediocre kitchen equipment, and even wrong ingredients, to come up with tried and true recipes that work the first time.

I was flipping through it with Sam and every single page, he would point to pictures and ask, "whats that?" And I would lovingly answer his questions. Well, you can imagine that after a few chapters of that, it was time to be done with looking through cook books. I did make it through the pasta section and I came across this recipe that I had almost everything on hand, so I tried it for dinner tonight.

This recipe took less than the 25 minutes it says it takes. It was easy and actually pretty light compared to other creamy pasta dishes Ive made. Carl even went back for 2nds, and he normally hated creamy pasta dishes. The pic just doesnt do this justice. It looked and tasted great!

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.

No comments: