Rigatoni with Ham, Peas and Cream Sauce


I pretty much lived off this at university so I can make it in my sleep. The sauce is ready even before the pasta which means it takes under 15 minutes to make (half that if using fresh pasta)! It’s so comforting and easy to make that I always want it on cold nights when I can eat it in front of the TV after a long day. Minimum effort but maximum pleasure!


Rigatoni with Ham, Peas and Cream Sauce

Serves 4 people



1 lb of rigatoni

1/2 tablespoon olive oil

1 cup frozen peas

1 tablespoon cream cheese

1 cup light cream

3 thick slices of ham (cubed)

1/3 cup gorgonzola (optional)

Grated Parmesan cheese for serving



1. In a large pot, bring plenty of salted water to the boil and add pasta.

2. Meanwhile, in a frying pan on a low heat, add oil and frozen peas.

3. When the peas are melted, add the cream cheese and light cream.

4. At this stage, you can also add the gorgonzola if you like it (I do!) Mix in the ham.

5. When everything is melted and warmed through turn off the heat until the pasta is ready.

6. Before draining the pasta, scoop out a cup of the salty water to use with the sauce if it’s too thick.

7. Drain pasta and add to the frying pan with the sauce. Turn heat back to medium and mix well. If the sauce is too dry, add some of the water from the pasta.

8. Serve warm with grated Parmesan cheese.


Lolly’s White Bean and Kale soup with Ham


Every year after Thanksgiving, Lolly makes a huge batch of her White Bean and Kale Soup. After the indulgence of the day before, I always look forward to this soup which somehow feels good for the soul. She has played around with the recipe in recent years, using ham hock and chorizo, but no matter what she adds it is always delicious and hearty while somehow still feeling cleansing. This works perfectly as a vegetarian soup but I just can’t resist adding ham.


Lolly’s White Bean and Kale soup with Ham

Serves 6-8



1 1/2 cups of white beans

2 tablespoons kosher salt

1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for finishing

2 medium yellow onions (roughly chopped)

3 cloves of garlic (crushed and finely chopped)

1 bunch of kale (washed, dried and torn into large pieces)

6 cups of stock (including 1 cup of ham stock if you have it)

2 thick slices of ham, cubed

Salt and pepper to taste



1. Soak the beans overnight in cold water with a tablespoon of salt.

2. The next day, rinse the beans and add to a large pot. Cover with water and bring to boil with another tablespoon of salt.

3. Once the water is boiling, reduce down to a simmer and cook for about an hour (until the beans are tender when tested).

4. Meanwhile, in a large frying pan add a tablespoon of olive oil and sauté the onions and garlic until translucent.

5. Add the kale to the frying pan and cook for a few minutes covered until the kale is tender.

6. When the beans are ready, drain them and return to the pot over medium heat.

7. Add the kale, onions and stock to the pot and lower to a simmer.

8. Use an immersion blender to thicken the soup. If you don’t have one, just put a few cups of soup in a regular blender, purée and stir back into the pot. (You can change consistency to your liking. The more you blend the smoother the texture.)

9. Once you’ve blended your soup to your desired consistency, add the ham. Continue to cook on low for several minutes until ham has warmed.

10. Serve warm (I like to drizzle with olive oil to finish).

Croque Monsieur


I’m slightly obsessed with the Croque Monsieur at Buvette on Grove Street in the West Village. I’ve been a huge fan of the chef/owner, Jodi Williams since her days at Gusto and can honestly say that she’s responsible for getting me over my long lived ambivalence to salads. Her Fava Bean, Escarole and Pecorino Salad is something I’ve tried to recreate and am very excited to hear she has a cookbook coming out so I can finally make it myself.  Every time I visit Buvette, I’m stuck between ordering her Steak Tartare and the Croque Monsieur. The Steak Tartare usually wins out only because I’ve figured out how to make the Croque Monsieur at home using an Ina Garten recipe that comes wonderfully close. The Steak Tartare, I’m yet to figure out!


Croque Monsieur

1 serving


1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

1 cup hot milk

Salt and pepper to taste

1 bay leaf

2 cups grated Gruyère cheese, divided

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan

2 slices of white bread (I use Italian Round)

Dijon mustard to taste

1 thick slice of ham



1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. Make a Béchamel sauce by melting the butter over a low heat in a saucepan and then adding the flour.

3. Stir for 2 minutes until it reaches the consistency of a fine paste.

4. Add the bay leaf and hot milk and stir over a low heat until the sauce thickens (about 5 minutes).

5. Turn off the heat and remove the bay leaf.

6. Add in 1 cup of Gruyère, all of the Parmesan and salt and pepper to taste. Stir well until the cheese has melted.

7. Lightly toast the 2 slices of bread.

8. Assemble the sandwich on the baking sheet. On one slice of toast, spread a little mustard then add the ham and sprinkle 1/2 cup Gruyère on top.

9. Top with the other slice of bread then slather over the cheese sauce until the sandwich is covered. Let the sauce spread over the edges and don’t be afraid to let it get a bit messy.

10. Top with the remaining Gruyère and bake in the oven for 5 minutes.

11. Finish the sandwich under the broiler for a further 3 minutes until the top is nicely browned.

12. Serve warm.