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“Sure Thing” Pasta with Peas and Ham Recipe

Sarah Pinneo, the author of Julia’s Child, shares a glimpse into her own life as well as her recipe for “Sure Thing” Pasta with Peas and Ham.

I’m very lucky to work from home. But even though I write at a desk that is only fifteen feet from my stove, there are nights when I am too busy to think about dinner until a half hour until I’m expected to serve it. One of the themes of Julia’s Child is how guilty Julia always feels when she can’t feed her family in a way that’s up to her own standards, especially when she’s working 60 hours a week on a business that feeds other people’s children.

 It helps, for both fictional mothers and real ones, to have a couple of go-to recipes for those nights when you need a quick fix. This is, hands down, my kids’ favorite meal. I save it for nights when I want to make everybody happy but have only a half hour to do it. It is not, however, a low fat food. I try to always serve this with a salad, if only to remind my own fat cells that I still care.

 Because they enjoy this dish, my two boys learned to like green peas. And because they are one of the few vegetables that freezes really well, I always have plenty in my freezer. When I don’t have ham on hand, I substitute cooked, crumbled bacon in a pinch.

“Sure Thing” Pasta with Peas and Ham

By Sarah Pinneo


1 pound of fusilli or other cut pasta (whole wheat or regular)

4 tablespoons butter

6 cloves of garlic, minced

1/4 cup half and half

2 cups frozen peas

1/2 pound of ham, cubed

1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese, divided

Freshly ground black pepper



Boil the pasta to an al dente preparation in a pot of salted water. (Usually between 9 – 11 minutes.) Before you drain the pasta, reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a very large skillet. Add the garlic and cook gently until the garlic softens. Do not allow the garlic to brown. Add the half and half, the peas and the ham. Bring to a simmer and then turn off the heat.

Add the drained pasta to the skillet, and turn the heat back on to a low setting. Gently stir everything together. Add the reserved pasta water, and stir to combine. Then add a quarter cup plus two tablespoons of the grated cheese and continue folding the ingredients together with a spoon.

Serve with a dusting of the remaining cheese, plus freshly ground black pepper to taste.

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