This dish may be far from authentic Italian but it was as delicious as the one I had in Rome – I swear on my KitchenAid stand mixer! It is also healthier because I used boneless ham steaks, which are full of smokey flavor with little to no fat. And, it’s cheap to make! I entertained with this and got nothing less than stellar reviews.
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 pound boneless ham steaks, cut into ½ inch cubes
1 small white onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, smashed or minced
½ tsp red pepper flakes
1 bay leaf
1 28-oz can crushed tomatoes
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1 pound whole wheat pasta
½ cup basil, chopped, divided
grated parmesan cheese for serving
1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta.
2. In a large sauce pan, heat one tablespoon of olive oil over medium high heat. Add the ham steak and sauté for about 5 minutes, until golden on all sides. Transfer the ham to a plate and reserve for later.
3. Add the remaining olive oil to the pot, plus the onions, garlic, red pepper flakes, and bay leaf, and season with salt and pepper. Sauté for about 5 minutes, until the onions are light brown and softened.
4. Add the crushed tomatoes and brown sugar. Stir and bring to a simmer. Cook covered for about 10 minutes allowing the flavors to marry. Stir in the basil, reserving some to garnish the dish.
5. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta according to the package instructions. When the pasta is just shy of being ready, drain it and transfer it to the sauce. Add the ham and toss until evenly coated, and cook for another minute or two.
6. Serve the pasta, garnishing with basil and grated cheese.