This Spaghetti with Green Beans and Smoked Ham couldn’t be much simpler. Just before Christmas I’d wanted to use up the last slice of Bavarian smoked ham and leftover blanched green beans in the fridge. Plus, I needed something quick and easy to make for a late sups. I need more light and easy-peasy recipes like this, instead of always going for my tuna and broccoli, which takes longer to cook as I always caramelise the onions as a base. Here, as the green beans are blanched already (as they store far better like that) I just trim them and chuck them in a pan with a little oil and single/light cream at the same time as I put on lots of lightly salted cold water with a clove of garlic for the spaghetti. There isn’t much more to it than that.
Apart from shredding the ham and mashing the garlic. Yesterday I cooked this without consulting notes I’d made and didn’t add cayenne, olives and dried oregano, all of which I’m putting as optional below. I preferred the even simpler version. If you know how amazing carbonara is, cooked properly, then think along those lines. Not that this simple little dish claims to be nearly as good as. Still, it’s tasty and relatively healthy as 10 green beans is one of your five a day.
To blanch green beans (suitable for freezing): Put a large saucepan with a lid on electric heat No 4 (out of 6) and add plenty of lightly salted cold water. Bring to a boil, carefully add the untrimmed green beans, replace the lid, bring back to a rolling broil, reduce heat to No 2 and set timer for one minute. Take off heat and drain through a metal colander. Immediately start to run cold water into the saucepan and add the beans. Run water until beans are absolutely cold. Mine store nicely for 3 days in the fridge without forming nasty brown spots which will turn into mould.
Spaghetti with Green Beans and Smoked Ham, with a garlicy cream sauce and Grana Padano cheese
- single/light cream, about enough to cover the base of pan (but not an extra large pan) or 2 tablespoons
- 10 x blanched green beans, stems trimmed and discarded, cut into pieces
- 1 x dried bay leaf, split in half
- plenty of lightly salted cold water, for the pasta
- 1 x medium garlic clove, root end cut off and discarded, peeled and clove sliced in half
- up to 70g (2.46 oz) x dried spaghetti, more to personal taste
- 2 – 3 x tablespoons x cooking liquor from the nearly cooked pasta
- 1 x slice smoked ham, shredded
- a pinch of cayenne pepper – optional
- green olives, sliced – optional
- dried oregano – optional
- lots of freshly grated Grana Padano cheese or Parmesan
- freshly snipped or finely chopped parsley (rinsed before chopping) – optional
Measurements within brackets above are approximate only.
- Put a large heavy-based pan on electric heat No 2 (out of 6) with a lid. When pan is hot add a drizzle of olive oil and the green beans and bay leaf.
- Put a saucepan on heat No 4 with plenty of lightly salted cold water and the split in half garlic clove. Bring to a boil and carefully add the spaghetti. Stir through occasionally to break up any strands that stick. Reduce heat to No 2 and simmer until al dente (refer to instructions on pack)
- In the meantime add a couple of glugs of single/light cream to the green beans and stir through occasionally. Add the shredded ham as well as this stage.
- When pasta is nearly ready add a couple of dessertspoons of its cooking liquor to the beans and stir through. Grab the garlic clove and mash, adding that to the beans as well.
- If sauce is too wet up the heat for the beans and reduce until it clings to the pasta. If too dry simply add a little more cream. There shouldn’t be excess sauce in the bowl when served.
- Serve with lots of freshly grated Grana Padano or a favourite Parmesan and seasoning.
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