A long holiday weekend entertaining dinner guests, baby still not sleeping well (still!), and I was out of steam. More time in the kitchen genuinely did not appeal. But we had to eat, as these things go, and to help things along was a half-carved leftover ham in the fridge. Hearty soups like split pea or white bean were one idea, but the timing seemed wrong for a warm, sunny evening before a week of forecast rain. Lasagne with ham, mushroom, and ricotta sounded tasty, but too much of a process. Chinese food? I didn’t have the energy to think about it.

That’s a lengthy process of elimination to get to this pasta, which cooks quickly and gently and makes use of a few things available locally or in the garden right now. That it’s tasty — the cream picks up a nice hit of smoke from the ham — was our good luck, and it was lovely with leftover wine, a nice Chenin Blanc from Washington state vintner L’Ecole No. 41.

Green garlic is around for just a short time in late spring, so there’s not a lot of opportunity for trial and error, at least not in a kitchen like mine, where the emphasis right now is on getting people fed. I used small young bulbs and their leaves, which are often compared to leeks in flavor and attitude. The stem was hot and garlicky, and I chopped it into the compost pile instead.

Pasta with Ham, Peas, and Green Garlic

½ pound pasta such as farfalle / 2-3 bulbs young garlic plus green leaves / 2 tbls butter / ½ cup smoky ham, cut into slivers / ½ cup shelled green peas / ½ cup cream / salt & pepper to taste / shredded Parmesan cheese to taste

Boil salted water, cook pasta, and drain. Meanwhile heat a skillet over medium heat. Mince the young garlic bulbs. Cut garlic leaves in thin slices.

Melt butter gently in pan, swirl, then add minced garlic bulbs and ham. Ham will become warm and fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add peas and cream and cook until slightly reduced, 3-5 minutes more. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Toss with cooked pasta, Parmesan, and sliced garlic leaves, and serve immediately. Feeds 2.

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