James Beard’s Pleasant Pasta Recipe

James Beard's Pleasant Pasta

James Beard's Pleasant Pasta Done Gluten Free

Hunger got the best of me last night before getting a proper photo of this yummy pasta with ham and sugar snap peas. Actually, it was an after thought to snap one at all while sitting at the table after I had already begun to dig in. I hope you’ll forgive me and try the recipe anyway…

I came across this recipe for James Beard’s Pleasant Pasta in my copy of The Fannie Farmer Cookbook by Marion Cunningham, as I was looking for a way to use up the remaining bits of baked ham from Memorial Day. According to the headnote, “This was one of James Beard’s favorite pasta dishes. He described it as amusing-looking, delicious tasting and a worthy pasta.” (An impressive recommendation, wouldn’t you say?)

Calling for 1 cup of finely cut prosciutto or good-quality ham, this recipe fit the bill perfectly. So I gathered the ingredients and tossed them together when I got home from last night’s Weight Watcher’s meeting.

Now, you might be wondering, “What’s a Weight Watcher’s member/leader doing cooking a pasta recipe with ham, butter, cream and grated Parmesan?” That’s one of the great things about Weight Watchers: there are no foods that are off limits; you can fit any and every food into the plan in moderation.

Yes, this recipe has butter and cream in the ingredient list, but in moderate amounts. By cutting the portion size back to a reasonable one, I was able to eat until both my taste buds and belly were satisfied for a reasonable 8 PointsPlus! (I’ve learned through lots of trial and error that I would rather eat a reasonable portion of something really delicious than more of something that isn’t. And it’s not the kind of thing I eat everyday or even every week. Once in a while, absolutely. I’m also in maintenance mode so I get to eat a little more.)

With just a few ingredients, this easy pasta comes together in minutes, so it’s perfect for a busy weeknight supper. Add a simple salad and you’ve got an entire meal.


5.0 from 1 reviews
James Beard's Pleasant Pasta Recipe
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
A quick and easy pasta with ham, sugar snap peas, and modest amounts of butter and cream with just 8 PointsPlus
Recipe type: Pasta
Serves: 4
  • 8 ounces pasta (I used gluten-free brown rice rotini)
  • 8 ounces sugar snap peas or snow peas
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • ½ cup finely cut prosciutto or good-quality ham
  • ⅓ cup cream
  • Salt & freshly ground pepper to taste
  • Freshly grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
  1. Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling, salted water, according the package instructions. Add the peas during the last minute or two of cooking and drain when the pasta is done.
  2. Once drained, return the pasta and peas to the pot.
  3. Add the butter and toss the mixture around until the butter melts and coats the pasta. Add the ham and cream and toss well to combine everything. Add the salt and pepper to taste and toss again.
  4. Serve hot with grated cheese.
Cook's Notes
Nutritional Estimates Per Serving (1/4th): 306 calories, 11.2 g fat, 37.2 g carbs, 0.9 g carbs, 13. 8 g protein and 8 WW PointsPlus value. The original recipe suggests spaghetti or fettucini, but I liked this with rotini. You could substitute peas for the sugar snaps or snow peas if you prefer


If you liked this post and recipe for James Beard’s Pleasant Pasta check out these links:

Easy Mediterranean Pasta with Tuna & Tomatoes (Simple Nourished Living)
Light & Creamy One Pot Pasta (Simple Nourished Living)
Lightened Up Spaghetti with Clam Sauce (Simple Nourished Living)
Baked Pasta with Ham, Tomatoes & Peas – Bookmarked to make as soon as I have more ham use up (A Veggie Venture)
Cooking Light Creamy Fettucini with Ham & Peas (MyRecipes)

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