Orecchiette with Mushrooms, Ham, and Peas

Preparation info

  • Makes


    Main-Course Servings
    • Difficulty


Appears in

Get in There and Cook: A Master Class for the Starter Chef

Get in There and Cook

By Richard Sax

Published 1997

  • About

This is a comforting dish, put together in minutes. It is also good made with fusilli.


  • Salt, to taste
  • tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, smashed and peeled but left whole
  • 2½ to 3 cups (6 to 8 ounces) white mushrooms (Mushroom Basics), halved and thickly sliced
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • ¾ cup frozen peas (right from the freezer)
  • ½ cup slivered good-quality country ham (or use prosciutto)
  • ½ pound dried orecchiette, fusilli, or cavatelli (or other short pasta)
  • cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving


    1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta. Add a little salt.
    2. Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil with the garlic in a large skillet over medium heat. Let the garlic sizzle until golden, 1 to 2 minutes. Then, discard it. Raise the heat to medium-high.
    3. Add the mushrooms to the skillet; sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Let them sit and sizzle for 1 to 2 minutes as they begin to release their liquid. Then begin to toss the mushrooms frequently with a wooden spoon until they wilt and begin to brown, 3 or 4 minutes. Break up the frozen peas and scatter them in with the mushrooms. Sauté, tossing constantly, until the peas are heated through, about 3 minutes. Add the ham and toss for 1 minute longer.
    4. Add the pasta to the boiling water and boil until al dente, firm but tender. With a mug, carefully remove about 1 cup of the pasta cooking liquid and set it aside. Drain the pasta well; return it to its pot and place over medium-low heat. Add the mushroom mixture, the remaining ½ tablespoon olive oil, the Parmesan cheese, and ⅓ cup of the reserved pasta cooking water. Sprinkle with pepper and toss gently with 2 large spoons until the ingredients are well combined. Add a little more liquid if the mixture doesn’t seem nicely moist.
    5. Serve immediately, passing more Parmesan and a pepper mill at the table.