Walnut, ham pasta all about finding balance

Published 1:02 pm Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Walnut and Roasted Ham Linguine

— 12 ounces dried whole-wheat linguine

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— 1/3 cup olive oil

— 4 cloves garlic, minced, or more to taste

— 2 shallots, chopped (1/3 cup)

— 3/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper

— 3/4 cup walnuts, chopped

— 1/2 pound cooked ham, cut into matchsticks (1 ½ cups)

— 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan

— 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Fill a large pot with lightly salted water and bring to a boil over high heat. Stir in linguine and return to a boil. Cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente, 8-10 minutes. Drain well in a colander

Heat oil in a deep, 12-inch heavy skillet over medium heat.

Cook garlic, shallots, and red pepper, stirring until garlic is fragrant but not browned, about 2 minutes.

Add walnuts and cook, stirring, until they give off a toasted smell, about 1 minute.

Add ham and cook, stirring occasionally, until ham is hot and beginning to brown, about 4 minutes more.

Add linguine and lightly toss with ham mixture. Sprinkle with cheese and parsley

Today’s recipe comes from the May 2017 issue of allrecipes magazine.

I held on to this recipe thinking it would be a good way to use up leftover ham at some point.

Well the day arrived when I had fixed a ham. We had eaten it as a meal, then had a couple of sandwiches from it and I wanted to do something besides have it as a meal again.

This recipe seemed simple enough.

I didn’t have any shallots and frankly wasn’t sure what shallots were until I looked it up on the Internet — they are just a type of onion. I headed to the grocery store to pick up a couple and had to ask a guy in the produce department where they were because I didn’t want to waste time searching for them.

I bought two small ones thinking they would equal 1/3 cup when chopped.

After work, I put a pot of water on to boil and began preparing the other ingredients. The two small shallots I bought didn’t quite make 1/3 cup, so I used part of a purple onion to make up the difference.

I heated up the olive oil in a skillet and added the garlic, shallots and red pepper.

I only used 1/4 teaspoon of red pepper because I don’t really like spicy food.

I figured if it needed more heat, more could be added at the table. I cooked these few ingredients until the onion was translucent, which was about 5 minutes on my stove.

At this point, the pasta water was boiling. Since I don’t normally use linguine I just used whole-wheat spaghetti for this recipe instead. I did use exactly 12 ounces.

While the pasta was boiling and the other ingredients were cooking — of course I didn’t have walnuts and I used pecans instead — I added pecans to the onion/garlic mixture and cooked them for about 2 minutes. Be sure you stir them often so they don’t burn.

I got the ham, which I had chopped into shoestring-size pieces the night before, out of the refrigerator and added it to the skillet. This heated for about 6 or 7 minutes.

When everything in the skillet was ready, I turned the stove down and waited for the pasta to cook.

When the pasta was ready, I drained it and started adding it to the mixture in the skillet.

It quickly began to look like there was too much pasta for the amount of ham and pecans I had, so I only added about 3/4 of the pasta.

I sprinkled in the Parmesan cheese and tossed everything together. I didn’t bother buying parsley for this dish because I think it’s only called for to make the dish look pretty.

We were ready to eat. After Brad prayed, we served ourselves and dug in.

The dish was pretty good, though a little bland. I felt there was still too much pasta compared to the other ingredients.

The amount of heat from the red pepper was fine for our taste buds.

Overall, I would say I nailed this recipe, but I would only make it again if I had way more ham and used even less pasta. Brad said it needed shittaki mushrooms.

Sarah Condley is an amateur baker and chef who is compiling a cookbook of her favorite recipes.