Romano pepper and herb penne (#72)

This is the first recipe I’m going to bring you from Mary Berry’s Quick Cooking. How glad I am that I purchased this book. It’s given me a whole bunch of cracking recipes. There are some fantastic little tapas pieces and canapes. Go and get this now.

This particular recipe is a superb little number. The ingredients list is pretty small, which I admit can be rare on this blog, and the list of stages is pretty small. Also the prep stage is pretty quick (see my photo below).

A couple of firsts for me. For example, I’ve never fried parma ham before, I usually only have it cold as part of a canape or starter. Separately, I’ve never cooked with pre-roasted red peppers before, but they have such a wonderful flavour and making cooking with peppers so quick that it definitely won;t be the last time!

Good things: a few big ingredients that go to making a big taste!

Bad things: parma ham gets smoky when you’re cooking it on a high heat…

Ingredients & requirements: serves 3-4

  • 275g penne pasta
  • 7 slices of parma ham
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 4 spring onions
  • 150g roasted red peppers in oil (I used about half the jar)
  • 1 large garlic clove
  • 200g crème fraiche (full fat)
  • 1 pack of parsley
  • 1 pack of basil
  • 30g grated parmesan

Preparation & cooking


  1. Put a large saucepan of salted water on to boil
  2. Snip the 6-7 slices of parma ham into small pieces with kicthen scissors.
  3. Prepare the dry vegetables:
    1. Chop the 4 spring onions (can also use the kitchen scissors if you prefer)
    2. Peel and crush 1 large garlic clove
  4. Drain 150g of peppers from oil in a jar, and chop them up. I used approx half the jar.
  5. Prepare the herbs and set aside in a medium bowl:
    1. Roughly chop up the parsley leaves from a whole 30g packet
    2. Roughly chop up the basil leaves from a whole 30g packet


  1. Cook the 275g of penne pasta in the boiling water. Once done, reserve some of the water, drain the pasta and set aside.
  2. Place a large frying pan over a high heat. Fry the parma hama pieces , stirring occasionally, until crispy. This might get smoky, so make sure the fan is on. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside in the bowl you originally had them in.
  3. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil along with the prepared dry vegetables and prepared roasted red peppers. Fry for 2 mins, stirring occasionally.
  4. Add the 200g of crème fraiche and bring to the boil.
  5. Then add the following, toss over the heat for 2-3 mins:
    1. precooked pasta
    2. half of the crispy ham
    3. most of the herbs
    4. salt & pepper
  6. Add the 30g of grated parmesan and a splash of the reserved cooking water, stir in.
  7. Sprinkle over the remain crispy ham & herbs


So below is the incredibly simple starting point I had on the side. With these four bowls ready you can produce this recipe in no time!

I gave one of my batches of this to Sous Chef Nik after he came back from hols (at 3 in the morning) and it got positive reviews! Admittedly, he was delayed, tired and hungry, so maybe anything would’ve done. But I’m still claiming Mary’s fantastic recipe hits the spot no matter how tired you are!


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