Creamy bow tie pasta with ham and peas is an easy recipe to serve your family for dinner tonight.  Learn how to make this simple main dish that uses up leftover holiday ham.  Your kids will lick their plate clean.

Prep Time: 35 minutes
person holding a bowl of bow tie pasta with ham and peas
Pasta, Pork

Creamy Bow Tie Pasta with Ham and Peas

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This recipe was originally published on November 23, 2017.

Ham and peas bow tie pasta is a fast and easy weeknight dinner staple that is perfect for using up leftover ham from the holidays.  It’s a family favorite, as all three of my girls love ham and peas.

bowl of bow tie pasta with ham and peas with two forks

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What is farfalle?

Farfalle is an Italian pasta that is shaped in a bow tie.  It means butterfly in Italian and was first made in the 16th century in Northern Italy.  It is commonly used with cream and tomato based sauces and as a base for salads.  Larger variations of bow tie pasta are called farfalloni and smaller variations are called farfalline.

How do you make bow tie pasta?

Making bow tie pasta is very similar to making other types of pasta.  To start,

  • Bring a large pot of heavily salted water (to add flavor) to a rolling boil.  You want the pasta to have room to move in the pot.
  • Add the dry pasta and stir to prevent sticking with a wooden spoon.
  • Reduce the heat to medium low.
  • Cook uncovered for 8 to 12 minutes.  Start checking after 8 minutes for al dente; tender outside and firm on the inside.
  • Reserve 1 cup of pasta water to help bind the sauce to the pasta and to thin the sauce down.
  • Drain only, don’t rinse because it will remove the starch.
  • Under ideal conditions, return the al dente pasta to the saucepan with the finished sauce and let the pasta cook in the sauce for a few minutes. 
  • If you’re cooking this before the sauce is done, to prevent the pasta from sticking, add 2 tablespoons of pasta water, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, or some pasta sauce.

bowl of bow tie pasta with ham and peas with forks

How do you know when pasta is al dente?

  • Start testing the pasta 2 minutes before the lowest time on the box suggests.
  • Remove some pasta with a fork, and let it cool by blowing on it.
  • Bite into the pasta with your front teeth. The center should have a thin white ring in the middle, and it should have a springy bounce.

Can you make bow tie pasta ahead of time?

A lot of this dish can be prepped the night before.  Slice the spring onion, mince the garlic, slice or cube the ham, zest and juice a lemon, and grate the Parmesan cheese.  You can also measure the 4 spices (dry mustard, nutmeg, salt, and pepper) in advance.

This dish tastes best when made fresh.  If all the ingredients are prepped ahead of time, this dish comes together in only 20 minutes.

person holding a bowl of bow tie pasta with ham and peas

Variations of Ham and Peas Bow Tie Pasta

  • Pasta Salad: with pesto caprese pasta with mozzarella pearls, capers and basil
  • Garlic Butter sauce: with parsley and Parmesan cheese
  • Seafood: with seared scallops or trout with a garlic lemon sauce

Can you freeze ham and peas bow tie pasta?

Unfortunately, this dish doesn’t freeze well because of the dairy used in the sauce.  If you have leftovers, store in the fridge for up to 3 days in an airtight container.  Reheat leftovers on the stovetop over medium low heat until heated through.

What do you serve with bow tie pasta?

  • Crusty Bread: rosemary bread or focaccia
  • Crunchy Salad: Caesar, kale wreath, or bell pepper
  • Vegetables: roasted grape tomatoes

How to Make Ham and Peas Bow Tie Pasta

Gather all the ingredients.  Slice the spring onion, mince the garlic, slice or cube the ham, zest and juice a lemon, grate the Parmesan, and chop the parsley.

ingredients for bow tie pasta with ham and peas

Cook the 12 ounces of bow tie pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until it’s al dente.  Reserve 1/2 cup of cooking water.

putting pasta water into a bowl

Drain the pasta.  Put the cooked pasta in a large bowl and toss with 2 tablespoons of pasta water.

pouring pasta water into a bowl of cooked bow tie pasta

Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium high heat, then cook the spring onion for 3 minutes until it’s softened.

sliced spring onions sauteed in butter

Add the minced garlic and saute until it’s fragrant.

adding garlic to sauteed spring onions

Whisk in the flour and cook for a minute.

whisking cooked flour with spring scallions

Reduce the heat to medium, then gradually pour in the heavy cream while whisking constantly to make the sauce smooth.

whisking cream into a skillet of white sauce

Whisk in the Mascarpone cheese.

adding mascarpone cheese to a pan of white sauce

Whisk in the Parmesan cheese, and the dry mustard.  Pour in 1/4 cup of the reserved pasta water.

adding ground mustard to white sauce skillet

Add the ham and peas.  Stir and heat through, roughly 5 minutes.

adding peas to a pan of white sauce

Remove the saucepan from the heat.  Stir in the lemon juice, zest, parsley, nutmeg, salt, and pepper.

adding seasonings to a pan of white sauce

Whisk the sauce until it’s well mixed.

whisking creamy white sauce

Pour the sauce over the pasta and stir to coat.  Taste and adjust seasonings, if necessary.

stirring bow tie pasta with creamy white sauce

Garnish with reserved parsley and Parmesan cheese.

holding a forkful of bow tie pasta with ham and peas

Pro Tips

  • Can’t find mascarpone cheese?  Use Neufchatel or cream cheese. 
  • Sauce too thick or too thin?  Thin with pasta water or thicken with Parmesan cheese.
  • Want to reduce the fat? Use half and half or half heavy cream, half 2% milk.
  • Need this gluten free?  Use gluten free pasta.
  • Need this vegetarian?  Use caramelized onions, mushrooms, and spinach.
  • Need a pasta substitute?  Use penne, rigatoni, or fusilli.
  • Want a different green veggie?  Try small broccoli crowns, spinach, kale, asparagus, or zucchini.
  • Want a different meat?  Try chicken, pepperoni, sausage, or ground beef.
  • Use the pasta water to help bind the sauce to the pasta and to thin the sauce.

Our Go-To Kitchen Tools

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The pleasure of a 5-star review for this bow tie pasta recipe would be greatly appreciated.

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person holding a bowl of bow tie pasta with ham and peas

Creamy Bow Tie Pasta with Ham and Peas


  • Author: Brooke
  • Prep Time: 35 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 8 cups 1x

Description

Creamy bow tie pasta with ham and peas is an easy recipe to serve your family for dinner tonight.  Learn how to make this simple main dish that uses up leftover holiday ham.  Your kids will lick their plate clean.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 1 pound bow tie pasta (5 cups dried; 453g)
  • 2 tablespoons butter (30g)
  • 1/3 cup spring onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour (30g)
  • 2 1/2 cups heavy whipped cream (590 ml)
  • 1/2 cup mascarpone cheese (105g)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
  • 1 cup ham, cut into 1/4 inch strips (113g)
  • 1 cup peas, frozen or fresh (115g)
  • 4 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped (reserve 1 tablespoon for garnish)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated (42g)

Instructions

  1. Cook the bow tie pasta in a large pot of boiling water until al dente.  Reserve 1/2 cup of pasta water, then drain the pasta.  Place the pasta in a large bowl and toss with 2 tablespoons of pasta water.
  2. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium high heat, then saute the spring onion for 3 minutes.  Add the garlic and saute one minute, until fragrant.
  3. Sprinkle the flour on the veggies, whisking constantly, and cook for one minute to get rid of the raw flour taste.  Gradually add the heavy cream while whisking until smooth.  Continue to whisk in the mascarpone, Parmesan, and the dry mustard to get a smooth sauce.  Add 1/4 cup of pasta water.
  4. Add the ham and peas, and heat through, about 3 to 5 minutes.
  5. Remove from the heat.  Stir in the lemon zest, lemon juice, parsley, nutmeg, salt, and pepper.
  6. Pour sauce over the pasta and mix well to coat the pasta.  Adjust the seasonings to taste.
  7. Garnish with reserved parsley and grated Parmesan cheese.  Serve warm.

Notes

  • Make this recipe perfectly the first time.  Check out the step-by-step photos and pro tips before the recipe card.
  • The pleasure of a 5-star review for this creamy bow tie pasta with ham and peas recipe would be greatly appreciated.
  • 👩🏻‍🍳 Want to see our latest recipes?  Subscribe to our email newsletter to get our latest recipes, fun food facts, food puns, and behind the scenes news about our blog.
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: ham and pasta recipes, pasta with ham and cheese

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4 thoughts on “Creamy Bow Tie Pasta with Ham and Peas

  1. The sauce is creamy, and I love the soft ham with it. The bow tie pasta is chewy and the peas add lots of flavor. It also smells delicious!

  2. The creamy sauce, cheese, and pasta are tasty, and when the ham and peas are added, this becomes dangerously good. I love ham and I love peas, so this is really amazing. This dish smells so yummy! It tastes creamy with the ham and peas and the amazing lemony sauce.

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