Thursday, January 21, 2010

Creamy Pasta with Ham and Broccoli

I had ideas for the head of broccoli I bought this weekend, but apparently they never came to fruition and I had to figure out what to do with it or in the compost it went. I originally had a repeat pasta dish on the menu for tonight, but since I didn't want to waste the broccoli, I sifted through our to-try pile and found this no-fuss Creamy Pasta with Ham and Broccoli dish to make instead.

To add a robustness to the broccoli and bring the green vegetable back to life, instead of steaming or blanching, we tossed the florets with olive oil, salt and fresh ground black pepper, then slid them onto a sheet pan and into the oven to roast. While we waited for the intense heat of the oven to turn the stiff, raw broccoli into tender and lightly browned florets, we dunked a few ounces worth of wavy egg noodles into a pot of boiling, salted water.

Before we drained away the now-starchy water, we set aside a couple cups worth to help create the sauce. Rather than dirty up another pot, we used the same one we cooked the pasta to prepare the sauce, which is simply two ingredients - softened cream cheese and a portion of the reserved cooking water! When adding both of those into the pot, keep the heat on medium-low as you don't want this to come to a boil - just enough heat to melt the delicate cheese. When the sauce was smooth and ready, the roasted broccoli went in, along with ribbons of thinly sliced ham to make this dish a bit more complete and filling.

When the noodles are folded in (be gently here so the broccoli stays intact), you'll have the option to play with the texture of the sauce - as is, it comes across as being fairly thick. However, you should still have another cup of the cooking liquid to add if you would like to thin it out. This method using cream cheese gives you a sauce that is silky, just rich enough and as long as you season it well with salt and fresh ground black pepper, is not nearly as bland as one might think. I figured we were going to need a shower of Parmesan or Asiago to not end up with a boring plate of pasta, but surprisingly enough to me, neither of us felt the urge to reach for either of them. You could even go a bit more extravagant and trade the cream cheese for hefty dollops of mascarpone cheese.


  1. I love oven-roasted broccoli, might try this over the weekend (might eat a bowl during the Saints-Vikings game).

  2. Keep on posting such themes. I love to read stories like this. By the way add more pics :)

  3. Awesome looking dish. Pasta, ham, and broccoli might be three of my favorite things :)

  4. Stephanie - I guess I don't have to ask who you want to win!