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Springtime Penne

With ham, asparagus, onion and pasta in a creamy sauce, this stovetop supper is tasty enough for even your pickiest guests. It's great with penne, but you can also try it with mostaccioli or another type of pasta.
  • Total Time
    Prep/Total Time: 20 min.
  • Makes
    5 servings


  • 3 cups uncooked penne pasta
  • 1 pound fresh asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/2 pound cubed fully cooked ham
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • Shredded Parmesan cheese, optional


  • Cook pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, saute asparagus and onion in butter for 5-8 minutes or until asparagus is crisp-tender.
  • Add the ham, cream, pepper and salt; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cook over low heat for 1 minute. Drain pasta. Add to the asparagus mixture; toss to coat. If desired, top with shredded Parmesan cheese.

Health tip
  • Although this pasta dish tastes light and fresh, it does contain butter and cream. Use just 2 tablespoons of butter and half-and-half in place of heavy whipping cream to slim this dish down to just under 300 calories per serving.
  • Nutrition Facts
    1-1/2 cups: 389 calories, 21g fat (12g saturated fat), 75mg cholesterol, 617mg sodium, 37g carbohydrate (4g sugars, 3g fiber), 16g protein.

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    Average Rating:
    • Cheryl
      May 12, 2020

      Delicious.... increased ham and added parmesan to the sauce (because we love cheese) very tasty!! Will make again :)

    • emilyz
      Apr 20, 2020

      This was fast, easy and delicious. After reading other reviews, I added about 1/3 cup cream cheese with chives to the sauce and it was perfect. I also added some chopped red pepper for color. Definitely use the Parmesan cheese.

    • xlsalbums
      Apr 13, 2020

      The recipe needed a little more cream. The asparagus was good and I like using leftover ham but it was a little bland.

    • dlm65
      Apr 2, 2020

      is there something you can substitute the heavy cream to make it lighter?

    • browns19fan
      May 19, 2019

      After reading all the other reviews I did my best to ramp up the flavor of this dish. I used cubed swordfish in place of the ham, tossing it in spicy seafood seasoning before adding it to the skillet along with a couple of cloves of minced garlic. No thrill. It wasn’t bad, but I won’t prepare it again.

    • Grammy Debbie
      Apr 25, 2019

      So easy and so very good. I had leftover spiral sliced ham from Christmas so my ham was not in chunks like the picture and I only had rigatoni, not penne noodles,, but otherwise I followed the recipe exactly. I did add some big parmesan cheese pieces on top at the end and I really think that was what put the whole recipe over the top.

    • PrplMonky5
      Jan 4, 2017

      We thought this was pretty good, but a bit bland. Definitely a good light meal for spring time. I added in minced garlic and a little garlic salt, but that didn't seem to help much with the taste. After it was served we tried putting some shredded mozzarella on top and that did the trick. Next time I will do more garlic, and then melt some mozzarella in during the last step. I didn't use the full lb of asparagus because the ones I picked up were thin so 1 lb just looked like way too much. I also did about 3 1/4 C farfalle pasta instead of the penne. Overall, a decent dish, but needs to be modified a bit.

    • cindihartline
      Feb 13, 2015

      My husband really enjoyed this. Nice use for fresh asparagus, will definitely make again.,

    • ReinaW
      Jan 19, 2015

      It's only me I am cooking for and like the author are a nurse. It was fast and easy to prepare for dinner in order to avoid more caf? food. I used gluten free penne and it was delicious!

    • toolbarsco
      Apr 11, 2014

      We had a lot of fun with this recipe. I brought all ingredients to prepare it at my sister's house. She had some fresh sliced mushrooms that needed using so we threw them in during the last half of the sautéing process. Then we decided to add some dry mustard since it always goes nicely with ham. Finally someone suggested making it cheesy so 3 slices of processed American cheese were added (because it melts so nicely). I must say it was quite a big hit. That being said, when I've made this recipe exactly as directed it was good, too. Agree about the need to add a little more cream.