Do you have a pasta dish that you can’t live without? For me, this is the one. This pasta may look rich, but looks can be deceiving. There’s not a drop of cream in this baby, and you’ll never miss it. The very best part? You’ll be in and out of the kitchen in under 30 minutes.
This dish originated from Cuisine at Home as a fabulous but super fatty cream-based orzo. After a whole lot of fiddling around, it has emerged as a scrumptious rotini that’s loaded with flavor, minus all that saturated fat and cholesterol. And its spring colors are so pretty, you might just run out and plant a garden after you’ve savored every last bite.
While the ham gives this dish added complexity, it could easily be eliminated for a vegetarian version because it’s the sherry that really makes this one sing. Please don’t use cooking sherry from a grocery…it’s typically a low quality sherry with salt and food coloring. You can find a bottle of dry sherry at most liquor stores for just a few bucks, and because it’s fortified wine, most experts say it can be kept capped in the cabinet (or the fridge) for one to two years. If you don’t have sherry, you can use a dry white wine and still get great flavor. If you are opposed to using alcohol, I’ve included a substitute in the recipe below.
If you have a few more minutes, pair this pasta with Monday’s cranberry almond salad for extra yumminess. But honestly, the pasta can stand alone as an outstanding one dish meal.
So breathe in that fresh March air, pour a glass of your favorite somethin’, and get cookin’. And don’t forget to shake that booty.
Serves 4 to 6
Prep and cook time: 25 minutes
- 1 (13.25 oz box) 51% whole wheat rotini (or your favorite pasta)
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
- 1 bunch fresh asparagus, trimmed and cut into bite-size pieces
- 1/2 cup dry sherry (or 1/2 cup dry white wine -OR- 1 Tbsp white wine vinegar mixed with vegetable or chicken broth to equal 1/2 cup)
- 3/4 cup fat free evaporated milk
- 3/4 cup chicken broth or vegetable broth
- 1 cup cooked ham, diced (I prefer Kentucky Legend Brown Sugar Ham)
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 1/2 cup fresh grated parmigiano reggiano (or your favorite sharp white cheese)
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- Cook pasta according to directions, al dente (still slightly firm)
- While pasta is boiling, chop onion, asparagus, and ham
- Heat olive oil in a dutch oven or large pot over medium heat until shimmering
- Cook onion in oil until softened, about 5 minutes
- Stir in garlic, asparagus, and ham and cook for two minutes
- Deglaze with sherry (or substitute) and simmer for 1 minute
- Stir in broth, evaporated milk, cheese, peas, and pasta
- Cook for another few minutes until peas are cooked through and most of liquid is absorbed
- Garnish with grated cheese, and salt and pepper to taste