Wednesday Night Wonder: Denver Pasta Skillet
This is a Wednesday Night Wonder because, some days, I really wonder what I'm going to make for dinner. If I've got ham, or more likely, turkey ham, a pasta skillet is usually a good option. In the recipe I'm offering you today, ham, onions, sweet bell peppers, tomatoes and cheddar cheese all go into the mix--think of the tastes of a Denver omelet with pasta rather than eggs. Everything--vegetables, meat, pasta, and sauce--cooks in one pan for easy cleanup, and the dish is full of flavor. The addition of the tomatoes with chiles gives the dish some heat (how much depends on the brand you buy--some are spicier than others), so, if you'd like a milder pasta skillet, use plain canned tomatoes rather than the kind with the chiles. Sour cream helps tame some of the heat, and barbecue sauce adds a sweet, smokey flavor. Try the pasta skillet with a green salad and perhaps some cornbread, if you'd like.
Denver Pasta Skillet -- Serves 4+
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup of chopped sweet bell pepper (red, yellow, orange, or a mixture)
1/4 cup of chopped celery
2 cups of chopped lean ham or turkey ham
1 tablespoon of dried parsley flakes
3 1/2 cups of very hot/boiling water
1 can (about 10.5 ounces) of chopped tomatoes with green chiles
8 ounces of fusilli or other round, squiggly tube pasta (or even macaroni)
1 cup of light sour cream
1/2 cup of barbecue sauce
1 cup of cheddar cheese, divided
Heat a large skillet or chef's pan over medium heat, coat it with olive or canola oil spray, and, when the pan is hot, add the onion, bell pepper, celery, and ham. Saute the vegetables and ham for 5-8 minutes or until the ham has browned a bit and vegetables are softening. Add the parsley flakes, hot water, and canned tomatoes and stir everything well. Stir in the pasta and bring the mixture to a boil. Partially cover the pan, turn down the heat to a simmer, and let the pasta mixture cook for about 10 minutes or until the pasta is mostly done. Uncover the pan and cook the pasta a few more minutes to thicken the sauce. Stir in the barbecue sauce, the light sour cream, and half of the cheese. Stir the mixture until everything is incorporated. Sprinkle on the remaining cheese and serve the Denver Pasta Skillet after the cheese melts a bit.