Whether you have leftover ham you need to use or you just don’t want a whole ham for Easter this Spring Ham and Asparagus Lemon Cream Pasta is perfection.
It’s the same thing for me every year, make a whole ham that takes my tiny family forever to finish, and I’m talking leftovers for weeks, or find an easier dish that still screams spring and Easter? I can’t even imagine what it will be like when I have kids that aren’t little bird eaters and not only eat more dinner but care about dinner!
When does that happen? When do kids actually care about meals?! Please tell me it happens soon!
It has everything you want in a spring dish! You have ham, of course! But you also have asparagus which finally is in season and not a million dollars per pound, and the bright lemon cream sauce! Lemon for me means spring.
Lemon Cream Sauce
When life gives me lemons, I find a reason to make this lemon cream sauce! We use a similar lemon cream sauce in our Panko Crusted Chicken with Lemon Cream Sauce and in our Grilled Chicken with Lemon Cream Sauce. So it obviously goes great with chicken, but I love it with the ham in this dish!
The lemon cream sauce starts with a basic roux, melted butter whisked with flour and garlic powder. When the cream and milk are added, it should start to thicken immediately. Parmesan cheese and lemon juice and zest are added to make this sauce just dreamy delicious!
You can use any kind of pasta you like, but we really like to use orecchiette in this dish. The little ear-shaped pasta acts like little pockets that trap the sauce and little delicious bits inside. I like to get my pasta going first thing when I start making this meal. Be sure to heavily salt the water that you boil the pasta in. It will give the the pasta so much flavor. Cook the pasta al dente because it will cook a little more once it gets mixed with the warm sauce.
I adore asparagus! When it finally goes on sale in the spring, I have to physically restrain myself from happy dancing around the produce section. Then we eat it several times a week all spring long! Not only is it delicious, but it’s also super good for you. It is low in calories and a source of many nutrients like fiber, folate and vitamins A, C and K. Eating asparagus also helps with digestion, lowering blood pressure and weight loss. Asparagus for the win!
Bring on the Ham
The asparagus is sauteed in a skillet until it is cooked and then removed to a plate. Then we bring on the ham! I love sauteing ham until it gets crispy edges and starts to caramelize. It is so dang good! It is one of my favorite ways to make ham, and it gives this dish the best sweet and smoky flavor.
Let’s Put it All Together
We have one more ingredient to add to the skillet before we bring everything together…it’s the peas!! Is there any vegetable that is easier to cook than peas? I guess it might be tied with corn, but I just love how simple they are. I also love the texture and sweetness they add to this dish. Now you are ready to combine everything back into the skillet:
- Cooked pasta
- Lemon cream sauce
Up on Top
We like to top this spring ham and asparagus with lemon cream pasta with chopped fresh parsley and more parmesan cheese.
So my kids love this dish even though they don’t appreciate how truly amazing it is. I’ve accepted that I can’t cook to please them every night because it is nearly impossible to please them all with every meal. I cook dishes that I know I will love and that Cade will love. We take the kids along for the ride and hope and pray that they will adore good food as much as we do someday! Fingers crossed!
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Spring Ham and Asparagus Lemon Cream Pasta
- 8 ounces Pasta orcchiette
- 1 1/2 Tablespoons Butter unsalted
- 1 Tablespoon Flour
- 1/2 teaspoon Garlic Powder
- 1 Cup Cream heavy, or milk
- 1/4 Cup Parmesan Cheese fresh, grated, plus more for serving
- 1 Lemon juiced and zested
- Salt to taste
- Olive Oil
- 8 Asparagus Spears chopped on a diagonal *see note
- 1 teaspoon Garlic Seasoning we use Johnny's Garlic Spread]
- 1 Package Ham pre-cubed, about 2 Cups
- 1 Cup Peas frozen
- Parsley freshly chopped, for garnish
- Heat a pot of water over medium high heat and add a little salt.
- Cook the pasta until al dente and set aside.
- In a saucepan over medium heat, add the butter and once melted, quickly whisk in the garlic powder and flour, continuing to whisk for 30 seconds.
- Add the cream or milk and continue to whisk until it begins to thicken.
- Add the parmesan cheese, lemon zest and juice and then season to taste. Set aside.
- In a skillet over medium high heat, add a drizzle or two of olive oil and once hot add the asparagus along with the seasoning. Stir occasionally until it it cooked but not soggy, remove to a plate.
- Add another drizzle of oil and add the cubed ham. Cook for about 3 minutes or until the ham begins to brown and caramelize.
- Add the peas and toss to cook.
- Dump the asparagus back in the skillet along with the drained pasta and sauce. Toss to coat and serve with additional parmesan and parsley.
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