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Creamy Fettuccine with Ham & Vegetables

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Primavera with Ham

My youngest never met a rich food she didn’t like, so it’s no surprise she has a major thing for fettuccine alfredo.  She orders it whenever she’s given the chance, and she begs me to make it at home  – but last time I checked, real alfredo has like, 12 tablespoons of butter and two cups of whipping cream.  No thanks.  As you’ve probably noticed by now, we’re the health conscious sort around here (cough), so we don’t do heavy whipping cream too often. 
This recipe isn’t a true alfredo sauce – there’s no butter required, although as written it does call for (brace yourself!) two cups of whipping cream.  In the five years that I’ve been making this dish, I’ve always swapped in half and half.  Matter of fact, yesterday I wasn’t paying attention to labels in the dairy case, and I accidentally brought home a carton of fat-free half and half.  The finished dish was still creamy and delicious and no one here so much as batted an eye or accused me of trying to withhold calories.

The youngest got her dinner wish.  And the leftovers were fabulous, by the way.

Enjoy!

CREAMY FETTUCCINE WITH HAM & VEGETABLES
Serves: 5 – 6
Source:  epicurious.com

1 small carrot, peeled and julienned (or swap in chopped baby carrots – they’re on sale this week, 3/9/11 to 3/15/11)
1 bunch asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2″ pieces (asparagus is on sale)
1 lb. fettuccine
1 c. frozen peas

2 t. vegetable oil
1 c. thinly sliced leeks (white and pale green parts only)
1 small yellow bell pepper, seeded, julienned
2 c. whipping cream or half and half (CF Burger Half & Half is on sale)
1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese
1 ham steak, diced

Parmesan cheese for serving

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Add carrot and cook for two minutes; remove with a slotted spoon.  Add asparagus to boiling water, cook for two minutes, remove with a slotted spoon (save out a few tips for garnish).  Add pasta to boiling water and cook, stirring occasionally, until just tender but still firm to bite, adding frozen peas during the last minute of cooking.  Drain pasta and peas.  Return to same pot.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a heavy large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add leeks and bell pepper; saute 2 minutes.  Add cream and simmer until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.  Mix in 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese and diced ham.

Add carrot and asparagus pieces to sauce.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Pour sauce over pasta and toss to coat evenly.  Divide pasta among 4 plates and garnish with reserved asparagus tips.  Serve, passing additional Parmesan at the table.

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Leah Damron is an avid home cook who believes in using the freshest ingredients available, and she challenges herself weekly to create meals out of (mostly!) sale items. If Sendik's ever gave a title for "Biggest Fan", she believes she would win, hands down. Leah lives in greater Milwaukee with her husband, three children, and her big black lab, Daisy."

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