This creamy pasta with ham, peas, and Parmesan is like the best adult version of mac and cheese thanks to the elevated zing of lemon zest.
Course Main Course
Keyword lemon pasta
Prep Time 5minutes
Cook Time 15minutes
Total Time 20minutes
12ouncesorecchiette, (you could also use little shells or rigatoni)
6ouncesthickly-sliced ham, diced (you could also use pancetta)
1 ½cupsheavy cream
2lemons, 1 zested (a heaping tablespoon of zest), the other reserved for serving
1cupParmesan cheese, grated, plus more for serving
1cuppeas, fresh or frozen, just defrost if using frozen
¼ - ⅓cupchives, finely chopped, for serving
Bring a large pot of water to boil. Season generously with salt and cook orecchiette according to package directions, until al denté. Drain pasta, reserving ½ cup of the pasta water.
While pasta cooks, place a large skillet over medium heat and add 3 tablespoons of the butter. Once butter has melted, add the ham and cook over medium-high heat for about 5-7 minutes, or until browned and slightly crisp. Remove ham with a slotted spoon and add to a plate or bowl.
To the same skillet, add the cream and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Simmer for about 5 minutes to thicken the cream, stirring occasionally, then reduce heat to medium-low. Add the remaining tablespoon of butter, the lemon zest, ¼ teaspoon salt, ¼ cup pasta water, and parmesan, stirring to combine. Stir in pasta, peas, and ham, tossing to coat. Gradually add a bit more pasta water if needed. Taste and add more salt if desired. To serve, top with fresh chives, more lemon zest, and more grated Parmesan.