Creamy Orzo with ham and peas

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Some of the best recipes we home cooks come up with is when we’re pressed for time and didn’t make it to the grocery store.  Such was the case the other night as I found myself frantically trying to avoid the call for pizza delivery.  It was 5:30 pm, the phone had been ringing off the hook, kids were getting hungry and I was getting stressed.  Opening the refridgerator door and staring into the cavernous compartments revealed little that inspired.  Before making what seemed like the inevitible call, I decided to delve into my treacherous freezer once again.  Wow-two times in a row that my freezer hasn’t spit something out as I opened the door.

I didn’t really expect to find anything; as I haphazardly rumage through here on a daily basis and didn’t recall anything that would fill the need.  But I decided to remove some things to look a little deeper and found a large round foil wrapped lump.  What the heck could this be?  As I peeled back the foil, a nice thick slice of ham leftover from Easter revealed itself.  Packaged tightly in plastic wrap, I was happy to see that it wasn’t freezer burned.  Next to the ham I found a bag of frozen peas and dinner started to come together.  After raiding the pantry for some orzo pasta, it was back to the refridgerator for the final ingredients.  Enjoy!

Sorry-being pressed for time, this is the only picture I got other than the finished dish.  I got my water boiling and after it reach a boil, I cooked the orzo for 8 minutes then drained reserving 1 cup of pasta water.  After I quickly defrosted the ham, I cubed it up and fried it in a pan with 1 tablespoon oil then removed it to a plate.  I added 2 minced shallots and 2 minced garlic cloves and sauteed until softened about 5 minutes.  I deglazed the pan with 1/2 cup chicken stock and 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice then reduced it to 1/4 cup about 5 minutes.  I added 3/4 cup of cream and cooked for 2 minutes over medium high.  I removed it from the heat and added 1/2 cup of grated parmesan, 1/2 teaspoon white pepper, 1 cup of thawed peas, the ham and the orzo then stirred to combine.  I added 1/4 cup of the pasta water to make it nice and creamy.

And this is what I ended up with.  It was devoured.  Enjoy!

Creamy Orzo with ham and peas
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
This fast weeknight meal is sure to satisfy. Ready in less than 30 minutes it will appease the pickiest eaters.
Recipe type: Entree, Main
Serves: 6
  • 1 package orzo pasta
  • 1 pound ham steak cubed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 shallots minced
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • ½ cup chicken stock
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • ¾ cup whipping cream
  • ½ teaspoon ground white pepper
  • ½ cup grated parmesan
  • ¼ pasta water or more if needed
  1. Cook the pasta for 8 minutes then drain reserving 1 cup of the pasta water.
  2. In a wide fry pan heat the olive oil over medium heat and fry the ham for 3-4 minutes then remove. Add the shallots and garlic and cook until softened about 5 minutes. Add the chicken stock and lemon juice and reduce to ¼ cup about 5 minutes. Add the cream and white pepper and cook for 2 minutes.
  3. Remove from the heat and add the parmesan, peas, cooked ham and ¼ cup of pasta water. Stir until it's nice and creamy adding more pasta water if needed.


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