Ham and Asparagus Pasta.

Something simple, quick and easy to use up some of the leftovers from the Christmas feast, assuming, that is, that [a] you have a Christmas feast, [b] you have a ham for Christmas, and [c] you live in the southern hemisphere where asparagus is in season over Christmas. If any of the above do not apply, you may have to rethink things; cream of turkey soup, for example. But that is another story.

A dozen or so fresh asparagus stalks.
2 cups diced lean cooked ham.
1 cup grated cheese.
1 egg.
1 400g can diced tomato.
½ cup dry Marsala.
2 tblsp tomato paste.
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
2 ½ cups dried short pasta e.g. fusilli or penne.
½ cup fresh origanum.

Bring a pot of salted water to the boil and simmer the asparagus until tender, about twenty minutes. Remove and cut into pieces, setting the tips aside separately. Set aside. Dice the meat and set aside. In a small bowl, beat the egg into the cheese and set aside. Bring a second pot of salted water to the boil for the pasta.

Place the pasta in the salted water and bring to the boil. Cook uncovered for the time specified on the pack, usually eight minute for an al dente texture. Place a sauté pan over a hot flame and add the Marsala, the tomato pieces, tomato paste and the salt and pepper. Bring to the boil and cook for a few minutes the add the meat and the chopped asparagus.
Reduce to heat to a simmer and cook through, stirring frequently. When the pasta is done, remove from the heat. Remove the tomato mixture from the heat and quickly beat the egg/cheese mixture and the origanum into it until a smooth pink sauce is formed. If the sauce is too thick for your taste, beat in a little of the pasta water a tablespoon at a time until the desired consistency is reached. Serve over the pasta, garnished with the asparagus tips.

Serves: 2.

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