Top | The Geometry of Pasta

Pasta with Ham, Peas, and Cream

(recipe, Caz Hildebrand & Jacob Kenedy)

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Prosciutto cotto, cooked ham, is quite prevalent in northern Italy — even if we do consider it to be a northern European/American thing. In this recipe, it marries beautifully with sweet summer peas and cream. Any kind of cooked ham will do, but a smoked one is best.


  1. ½ lb. fresh podded peas
  2. ¾ cup chicken stock (optional)
  3. About ½ pound (less for dried, more for fresh) garganelli (see Note)
  4. 1¾ Tbsp. butter
  5. ¼ lb. thickly sliced cooked ham, cut into strips the size of the pasta
  6. 7 Tbsp. heavy cream
  7. Nutmeg to taste
  8. Grated Parmesan, to serve


  1. The peas can simply be boiled until tender and drained, in which case you can omit the stock. However, they become sweeter and softer when braised: Put the peas and stock in a smallish saucepan, cover with parchment paper and a tight lid, and cook over a low heat until completely soft, about 15 minutes. Remove the cover, and boil until the remaining stock starts to thicken; it is this sweet liquid which will add the extra depth to your sauce.
  2. When the peas are done, add the garganelli to a pot of boiling, well-salted water. A few minutes before the pasta is ready, heat the butter in a pan until it foams. Add the ham, fry for a minute, then add the cream and cooked peas. Season with nutmeg, salt, and pepper, and cook until just starting to thicken. Add the drained pasta and cook until well coated in thickened cream. If it goes too far, add a bit of the pasta water. Serve with grated Parmesan.


Garganelli, thin ridged tubes of pasta, closely resemble that oft-unidentified tube in the neck end of a chicken — the esophagus, which translates as garganel in Emilia-Romagna. Other tubular, ridged pastas may be substituted. The authors recommend farfalle, farfalle tonde, fettucine, gnocchi shells, maccheroni alla chitarra, strozzapretti, and tagliatelle as good partners to this sauce.