Gnocchi with Ham and Peas

A ham steak is a useful thing, I'm finding. I bought one a while ago, on impulse, either vaguely recalling an interesting recipe that called for a ham steak, or simply figuring I could use it for something, by golly. I threw it in the freezer and promptly forgot about it. Such is how I roll.

But recently pried from its frozen grave, I've used this one steak on two occasions. Half of it went into split pea soup, made in David Crockpott. 

I used a quarter of the remaining steak tonight with gnocchi and peas. I almost used all of it and I'm glad I didn't because it's really quite salty, especially when paired up with a packaged sauce mix. I used Knorr Garlic & Herb. Remember these? They came out in the 90s, I still remember the radio commercials. Being young and broke in the city, Jeeps and I lived on pasta and we became Knorr Whores for a while. I don't use them as often now but they are handy to have around.

Gnocchi with Ham and Peas à la Knorr Whore

  • 1 package potato gnocchi (bowties or oriechiette are a nice substitute)
  • 1/2 ham steak, diced
  • 1/2 bag frozen peas
  • 1 packet Knorr Garlic & Herb pasta sauce mix, made according to package directions

Bring water for pasta to boil but do not salt water. Add gnocchi and cook until they rise to the surface. Add the peas and cook another 1-2 minutes. Reserve 1/4 cup pasta water, then drain pasta and peas in colander.

Return pasta to pot, add diced ham and the sauce and toss well.

Panic Pasta

Panic meaning the pre-vacation panic to use up as much as possible in the fridge. In this case, use 1 zucchini, 3/4 box of cherry tomatoes, 1/2 an onion, and 1/2 a bag of mixed salad greens.


This will look very much like my previous post on pasta primavera (holy alliteration) so I'm not going to get too detailed.

I used rigatoni for pasta. While that was going on the stove, I sauteed the diced onion and zucchini with a few cloves of minced garlic and 1 can of drained and rinsed cannellini beans. Then I halved the cherry tomatoes and had them ready in the serving bowl.

I added the mixed greens to the pasta for the last 5 minutes of cooking. Before draining the pasta, I scooped out 2 cups of pasta water.

I put a tablespoon of butter back into the pasta pot, added 1 cup of the reserved pasta water, then the zucchini-bean mixture, then the rigatoni. Tossed all, then dumped into the serving bowl. I added the other cup of pasta water, some chopped parsley, salt and pepper, and tossed all again.

This used more reserved pasta water than I normally would, but the beauty was that the extra starchiness from the beans turned it into this really yummy rich broth at the bottom of the bowl. Not enough to qualify as soup, but enough to be wow, really yum. I wish I'd had bread to mop that stuff up.  I thought we'd have leftovers but we ate it all.

Pasta Primavera

It's a balmy 2 degrees in my neck of the woods. And spring is in the air. At least tonight. I couldn't deal with any more meat-based comfort food, I had to lighten up. Something vegetarian and colorful was called for. Like pasta primavera. This is my own recipe, pieced together from this and that over the years. You can have it on the table in 20 minutes.

Pasta Primavera

None of the ingredients are set in stone, you can make it with whatever vegetables you have to hand, but for this version you will use:

  • Orange and red cherry tomatoes
  • 1 small zucchini
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 tub "ciliegine"—small mozzarella cheese balls
  • Pasta of your choice (I had pappardelle in the pantry)
  • 1 bunch asparagus (Last minute swap, I realize spinach is in the picture and then I changed my mind...)
  • 3-4 garlic cloves
  • Pasta of choice

Start your pasta water boiling on the stove. Slice asparagus diagonally into 1-2 inch pieces. With a vegetable peeler, make "ribbons" from the zucchini and carrot. Put all this aside in one bowl, these are your "wet" veggies which will go into the pasta water for the last 3 minutes of cooking time.

In the bowl you will serve in, halve about 40 cherry tomatoes (I did 20 orange, 20 red). Then halve the mozzarella cheese balls. Set aside. Salt your pasta water and add pasta. While it's cooking, chop 3-4 garlic cloves. Add the asparagus, carrot and zucchini ribbons to the boiling water for the last 3 minutes.

Reserve 1 cup of the cooking water and then drain pasta in colander in the sink. Put pot back on stove, add a little olive oil and butter and saute the garlic on medium-low heat for five minutes—don't rush, there's not much that's more nasty than burned garlic. Add the pasta water and then put the pasta and veggies back in the pot. Mix to coat with the sauce and then turn into your serving bowl that's holding the tomatoes and cheese.

Toss well to distribute all the color, add some chopped parsley.  



This dish is killer when all these vegetables are actually in season. And still pretty damn good in the clutches of a particularly brutal winter.