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.
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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 are called farfalloni and smaller variations are called farfalline.
How do you cook bow tie pasta?
- Bringing a large pot of heavily salted water (to add flavor) to a rolling boil. Don't crowd 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 the water to help bind the sauce to the bow ties 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 it cook in the sauce for a few minutes.
- If you're cooking this before the sauce is done, to prevent it from sticking, add 2 tablespoons of the reserved water, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, or some sauce.
How do you know when pasta is al dente?
- Start testing it 2 minutes before the lowest time on the box suggests.
- Remove some with a fork, and let it cool by blowing on it.
- Bite into it 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 this 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.
Can you freeze this?
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 while whisking until heated through. Don't bring to a boil or the sauce will separate.
What do you serve with this recipe?
- Crusty Bread: rosemary bread or focaccia
- Crunchy Salad: Caesar, kale wreath, or bell pepper
- Vegetables: roasted grape tomatoes
How to Make
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.
Cook the 12 ounces of the bow ties in a large pot of boiling salted water until it's al dente. Reserve ½ cup of cooking water.
Drain it then put it in a large bowl and toss with 2 tablespoons of pasta water.
Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium high heat, then cook the spring onion for 3 minutes until it's softened.
Add the minced garlic and saute until it's fragrant.
Whisk in the flour and cook for a minute.
Reduce the heat to medium, then gradually pour in the heavy cream while whisking constantly to make the sauce smooth.
Whisk in the Mascarpone cheese.
Whisk in the Parmesan cheese, and the dry mustard. Pour in ¼ cup of the reserved pasta water.
Add the ham and peas. Stir and heat through, roughly 5 minutes.
Remove the saucepan from the heat. Stir in the lemon juice, zest, parsley, nutmeg, salt, and pepper.
Whisk the sauce until it's well mixed.
Pour the sauce over the bow ties and stir to coat. Taste and adjust seasonings, if necessary.
Garnish with reserved parsley and Parmesan cheese.
- Pasta Salad: pesto, bow ties and mozzarella pearls, capers and basil
- Garlic Butter sauce: with parsley and Parmesan cheese
- Seafood: seared scallops or trout with a garlic lemon sauce
- Can't find mascarpone cheese? Use Neufchatel or cream 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.
- 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.
- Need a substitute? Use penne, rigatoni, or fusilli.
- Sauce too thick or too thin? Thin with pasta water or thicken with Parmesan cheese.
- Use the pasta water to help bind the sauce to the bow ties and to thin the sauce.
- Reheat any leftovers on the stovetop over medium low heat while whisking. Watch carefully so sauce doesn't separate.
- Emeril Lagasse Skillet: this large frying pan is perfect for making sauce.
- Set of 3 Whisks: we love these sturdy whisks for making sauces and dressings.
- 2-Cup Measuring Cup: this glass measuring cup has a convenient pouring spout.
- Measuring Spoons: we use these stainless steel spoons all the time.
Try these other delicious pasta dishes!
- Tortellini with Basil Alfredo Sauce
- One Pot American Goulash
- Pear, Gouda, and Chicken Sausage Rigatoni with Spinach
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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.
- 1 pound bow tie pasta (5 cups dried; 453g)
- 2 tablespoons butter (30g)
- ⅓ cup spring onion, thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon garlic cloves, minced
- 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour (30g)
- 2 ½ cups heavy whipped cream (590 ml)
- ½ cup mascarpone cheese (105g)
- ½ teaspoon ground mustard
- 1 cup ham, cut into ¼ 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)
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated (42g)
- Cook the bow ties in a large pot of boiling water until al dente. Reserve ½ cup of pasta water, then drain. Place the pasta in a large bowl and toss with 2 tablespoons reserved water.
- 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.
- 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 ¼ cup of the reserved water.
- Add the ham and peas, and heat through, about 3 to 5 minutes.
- Remove from the heat. Stir in the lemon zest, lemon juice, parsley, nutmeg, salt, and pepper.
- Pour sauce over the pasta and mix well to coat. Adjust the seasonings to taste.
- Garnish with reserved parsley and grated Parmesan cheese. Serve warm.
- Thin with pasta water or thicken with Parmesan cheese to get the sauce just right.
- To help bind the sauce to the bow ties and to thin the sauce, use pasta water.
- When reheating leftovers, watch carefully so sauce doesn't separate. Whisk the sauce over medium low heat in a heavy bottom saucepan over medium low heat.
- Category: Dinner
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: ham and pasta recipes, pasta with ham and cheese
This recipe was originally published on November 23, 2017.