Penne with Ham, Mushrooms and Peas


The second dish that Chef Michael Allemeier prepared for Winnipeg TV audiences was this upscale version of a family favourite.  The elegance comes from the cream and smoked Canadian Cheddar.  Which is why I am convinced that the Canadian Milk Producers got threes chefs involved in their Any Day Magic Challenge, in the first place.  Many family cooks like myself, can manage the any day, Chef Michael added the magic to make a simple dish extraordinary and memorable.

Being on the set with Chef Michael for a day, I picked up some cooking tips that will translate to other dishes as well.

1. Like using lots of onions in nutritious meals but taking the time to saute them for long enough so that their essence is realized and they are perfectly soft and translucent.

2.  A squeeze of lemon added at the end of preparation will not necessarily add lemon flavour but bring out all the other tastes in a natural manner.

3.  Use lots of fresh herbs no matter what the dish is-the taste is explosive and the plant itself is good for you.

4.  Take mushrooms back up to a higher heat to urge them past the watery stage and plump them up while browning them.

5. A smoky cheese and a little cream can go a long way.  You do not need a lot of either to boost the texture, silkiness and taste to an entirely new level.

Penne with Ham, Mushrooms and Peas
Recipe type: Entree
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
Pasta perfectly balanced with diced ham, slices of mushroom and fresh garden peas in a delicate creamy sauce, finished with a touch of fresh lemon juice and smoked cheddar.
  • 1 package (500 grams) penne pasta
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 c finely diced white onion
  • 1 T minced garlic
  • ½ t dried chili flakes
  • 1 c diced ham
  • 3 c thinly sliced button mushrooms
  • 2 c 45% cream
  • 2 c peas (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 1/12 c shredded smoked Canadian Cheddar cheese
  • 3 T lemon juice
  • ½ c chopped fresh parsley
  • salt and black pepper
  1. In a large pot of boiling, salted water,cook penne according to package directions until tender but firm. Drain and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, in another large pot, heat oil over medium heat.
  3. Add onions and cook, stirring for about 3 minutes or until tender and fragrant.
  4. Add garlic and chili flakes and cook, stirring for 30 seconds or until fragrant.
  5. Add ham and cook, stirring well for 30 seconds.
  6. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring for 3 minutes or until water is starting to release from mushrooms.
  7. Increase heat to high and cook, stirring for about 5 minutes longer or until water is evaporated and mushrooms brown lightly.
  8. Pour in cream and bring to a simmer, stirring often (don't boil it). Reduce heat and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes or until slightly reduced.
  9. Stir in peas and heat through (if using fresh peas, simmer for 2 to 3 minutes or until tender).
  10. Add drained pasta and cheese to pot and stir to mix well.
  11. Stir in parsley and lemon juice.
  12. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
  13. Serve immediately.


Kath’s quote “When love and skill work together, expect a masterpiece.”-John Ruskin


posted under Entrees

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