It’s just mac and cheese, really, but with the addition of ham, crispy bacon, thin slices of pimiento and some sweet peas, the rather plain-colored pasta dish was transformed into something that almost looked like Christmas. I call it my loaded mac and cheese
See, fast cooking doesn’t have to be unimaginative. It doesn’t have to be plain and it doesn’t have to be colorless. My younger daughter Alex wanted pasta for dinner a few nights ago, I obliged but because I had already cooked something else, the pasta dish had to be simple and cooked fast. And this was the result.
- 150 to 180 grams pasta (any shape will work)
- 100 to 150 grams salty ham
- 1 fresh red bell pepper
- 1/3 cup frozen sweet peas thawed
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 3/4 cup cream
- 1/2 to 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese (the more cheese, the thicker the sauce)
- pepper (I recommend white pepper so no black specks are visible)
- fried crispy bacon crumbled
Cook the pasta in boiling water. While the pasta cooks, prepare the sauce.
Dice the ham. Cut the bell pepper in half, discard the stem, cut off the membranes and scrape off the seeds. Cut the bell pepper into thin slices.
Heat the butter in a pan. Cook the ham until lightly browned. Add the sliced bell pepper and the sweet peas. Cook for about a minute. Lower the heat, pour in the cream and add the grated cheese. Stir until the cheese melts. Season with salt and pepper.
Strain the cooked pasta. Add to the sauce in the pan and toss.
Divide the loaded mac and cheese into individual pasta bowls and top with crumbled crispy bacon.