It's perfect for a weeknight, as it comes together pretty quickly, and requires only a bit of dicing and slicing.

The discount club is a store of many wonders.  There are cheese wheels the size of small automobile tires and enough croissants to feed France. Inevitably, I wind up purchasing something ridiculous… or not. 

During my last excursion to the big box store, I wound up buying a giant ham.  If I recall correctly, it was about twelve bucks, but it has served my family well through more meals than I could have imagined. 

Occasionally I dig it out of the back of the freezer and carve a few slices off for a soup or a quiche.  Last week, it came in handy for this emergency pasta dish – the emergency being that I did not feel like leaving my warm house and going to the grocery store on a bitterly cold winter day. 

This Orecchiette with Crispy Ham and Peas is a simple and warming dish on a cold night.  It’s perfect for a weeknight, as it comes together pretty quickly, and requires only a bit of dicing and slicing. Fret not if you don’t have a gargantuan ham laying around.  A ham steak will work perfectly fine in this dish, as well.  

Orecchiette with Crispy Ham and Peas

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium onion, diced

2 cups diced ham

6 cloves garlic, minced

1 pound dried orecchiette pasta 

1 pound frozen peas, thawed

2 cups reserved pasta cooking water

kosher salt

freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

  1. Place a large pot of water to boil over a high flame. Salt the water heavily. Cook the pasta according to package directions, but drain it while still quite al dente. Reserve two cups of the starchy pasta cooking water. 
  1. On a different burner, place a large skillet over medium heat. Add the olive oil to the skillet, followed by the diced onion. Cook until the onion is soft.  
  1. Add the ham to the skillet. Bump up the heat a bit, and cook the ham until it gets a bit crispy. Stir in the garlic, but take care not to burn.
  1. Add the thawed peas to the skillet, followed by the drained pasta. Add one cup of reserved pasta water to the skillet.  Stir the pasta well. Turn off the heat when the pasta is cooked through. 
  1. Add the grated cheese and butter, along with salt and pepper to taste. If the dish is too thick, add a bit more pasta water until it is a bit looser. 

Serve hot, passing more cheese at the table. This recipe will yield six servings.

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Source: http://www.nj.com/hudson/index.ssf/2019/01/orecchiette_combines_with_ham_for_a_warming_dish_o.html