This is one of my favourite pasta dishes. Being a cream based sauce it can't really be called low in fat, but it does have a number of redeeming characteristics which make it a good occasional meal. It’s delicious and simple to prepare, taking about 15 minutes from start to finish - a real bonus if you're trying to escape the kitchen on hot summer evenings. It is also a great way to use up left-over ham that you are beginning to wonder how to dispose of.
For 3-4 servings:
1 tsp olive oil
1 Tbsp flour
1/4 cup white wine, water or milk
1 cup frozen peas
1 Tbsp basil pesto
1/2 tsp salt
black pepper to taste
400g fresh or dried fettuccine
Start by putting on a large pot of water for the pasta.
Heat a medium-large pan to make the sauce then add the oil followed by the butter. While the butter heats, slice the ham (fairly thinly) then cut the slices crossways to give narrow strips or matchsticks.
Sauté the ham in the butter, stirring frequently, until it has turned golden brown, then stir in the flour and cook for a minute longer. Pour in the cream and wine (or water or milk) and allow the mixture to come to the boil before adding the peas and seasonings.
Reduce the heat to very low (or turn off the element but don't remove the pan) and leave to simmer gently while you cook the pasta.
Drain the cooked pasta and toss with a little extra olive oil (or additional butter) before gently stirring in the sauce.
Serve immediately topped with a generous grind of pepper and/or some chopped fresh herbs and grated Parmesan. A green or tomato salad and crusty bread or rolls make ideal accompaniments.
Photography: Lindsay Keats