This is another one of those recipes that just “happened” while I was cleaning out the fridge. Really. I had a tiny little bit of cream cheese left over from another recipe, a bit of whipping cream, half a red bell pepper, and a package of ham cubes that were all going to need to be used within a few days. So, I grabbed an onion, some garlic, and a few other things and this is what I ended up with!
I’ve already made this “clean out the fridge” recipe twice. For me to make a recipe twice in the space of a week means that it’s most definitely a keeper. We’ll enjoy this over and over and I hope your family loves it as much as we do.
Bring a large pot of water to the boil. Add the spaghetti and a tablespoon of salt. Cook the pasta for the length of time indicated on the package.
While the pasta cooks, go ahead with making the creamy ham and red bell pepper sauce. In a large, deep sided skillet melt the butter over medium high heat. Add the onion, red bell pepper, and garlic. Cover and cook, stirring frequently, until the onion has softened and is translucent – about 6 to 7 minutes.
Add the cubed ham to the pan. Cook for 3-4 minutes until the ham is warmed through.
Just a note about the ham – I really love this cubed ham that I get at my local grocery store. It comes in 8 ounce packs, is already diced and ready for a recipe, and the taste is great! I keep a pack or two of this on hand all the time and use it for things like omelets, casseroles, and pasta salads. Anything that you’d need some leftover ham for this is great in it.
Once the ham has had a few minutes to warm up, add the milk, cream, and cream cheese. Cook, stirring, until the cream cheese has melted. Now, you don’t have to use cream here. You can use all milk, or half and half – whatever you have on hand to equal a total 1/2 cup of milk/cream/half and half. And you don’t really have to add that little bit of cream cheese. But it sure does make a nice, rich sauce. I’m thinking even some goat cheese would be good in this. Hmmm.
Add the Parmesan cheese, salt, black pepper, basil, and parsley. Stir to combine. Reduce the heat to medium low. Cover the pan and cook for 4-5 minutes more.
If you’re not quite sure how to make a chiffonade of basil, it’s easy. Simply stack up the basil leaves, roll them up like a little cigar, and cut crosswise. That’s chiffonade!
Now that your sauce is all ready to go, add the drained pasta to the pan with the sauce. I don’t drain my pasta in a colander, I just lift it from its cooking water with a pasta fork and drop it into the sauce. That way I still have the pasta water for thinning the sauce if I want it.
Toss to combine the pasta with the sauce. If the sauce seems too thick, add some of the pasta cooking water one ladle full at a time until the desired consistency is reached.
Top individual servings with additional Parmesan cheese and chopped fresh parsley.
Other ham and pasta recipes you might like from around the internet:
- Creamy Ham Linguine from Daily Dish Recipes
- Baked Ham Penne Pasta from Miss in the Kitchen
- Pasta with Ham and Pea Cream Sauce from Herbie Like Spaghetti
- Asparagus, Ham, and Egg Pasta from Taste and Tell
- Pasta with Ham, Broccoli, and Fire Roasted Tomatoes from Cooking by the Seat of Our Pants
What I was up to…
- One year ago: Chocolate Little Layer Cake
- Two years ago: Coconut Meringue Pie
- Three years ago: BLT Bites
- Four years ago: Fresh Salad Greens with Classic Vinaigrette