Today, I’m sharing another pasta recipe that my Mom has been making for as long as I cam remember. If we weren’t eating Mom’s classic red sauce, this was our next go-to. It’s fast, easy, and a little sinful. I don’t dare call it Pasta Carbonara, because it’s made with heavy cream– which any Nonna will tell you is NOT true Carbonara. But hey, Mom’s an Italian-American, and this pasta is absolutely delicious– so I don’t really care if it’s not true Carbonara. It’s amazing. It’s one of the few meals where I break from vegetarian cooking (but see below for the easy vegetarian substitute for Prosciutto).
The penne is coated in a luscious, creamy, buttery, cheesy sauce that sinks into every ridge of each noodle. The prosciutto gives a nice saltiness to the dish, and the peas add beautiful color and delicate flavor. I like to amp everything up with some extra red pepper flakes, to give it all a nice kick that wakes up your palate.
I know this recipe isn’t vegetarian, but it’s super easy to swap out the prosciutto for sauteed mushrooms. Simply cook 4-6 ounces of thinly sliced mushrooms (I recommend cremini) in hot butter and sub that for the prosciutto. Easily just as delicious.
In all honesty, I could probably eat pasta 7 days a week. There is just something so comforting and satisfying about digging into a plate of noodles (especially if it’s Penne– my favorite noodle). And even though this dish has a good amount of heavy cream, it still feels lighter than an Alfredo sauce. So what are you waiting for? This glorious pasta can be yours in no time.
Creamy Penne with Peas & Prosciutto
1 lb Penne pasta
4 oz prosciutto, diced
1 small yellow onion, diced
3 Tablespoons butter
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup frozen peas
1/8-1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (depending on how spicy you like it)
- Prepare a large pot of water to boil for the noodles. Make sure the water is heavily salted. You want to cook the noodles until al dente, but you aren’t going to drain them– they will go directly into the skillet with the sauce. While the water is coming to a boil, get started on your sauce. I’m writing all of this here so that you have an idea of how you want to time things– just make sure you don’t cook your noodles before your sauce is ready!
- In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter and saute the onion for 3-4 minutes, or until fragrant and slightly translucent.
- Add the diced prosciutto to the skillet. Cook for another 3 minutes or so.
- Add the heavy cream to the skillet and allow it to gently simmer for at least 5 minutes, or until the sauce is thick and coats the back of a wooden spoon.
- When the sauce has thickened, add the Parmesan cheese. Turn the heat down to very low.
- Add the peas, pepper flakes, 1/4 teaspoon of salt and several cranks of freshly cracked black pepper.
- Using a spider or slotted spoon, remove the cooked noodles from the pot of water and ladle directly into the skillet with the sauce. Stir everything together until the noodles are evenly coated with the sauce. Serve immediately.