Italians love their prosciutto cotto (cooked ham) as much as their prosciutto crudo! They use it in lots of dishes, including pasta recipes. These 7 traditional Italian pasta with ham recipes are just an example of how many delicious ways there are to pair cooked ham with pasta.
How Italians eat cooked ham.
Italians love their prosciutto cotto (cooked ham) as much as prosciutto crudo. And like prosciutto crudo, they eat it in panini, on pizza and made into various appetizers. But, in general, cooked ham is a more versatile ingredient than its crudo cousin! You can find it used in many dishes, particularly for family meals and home cooking recipes. Interestingly, it’s not traditional in Italy to cook a whole ham for a meal, as many people do in USA or UK for Easter or Christmas.
There are some wonderful pasta recipes with prosciutto crudo, like this recipe for tagliolini with San Daniele prosciutto and poppy seeds. However, there are so so many pasta recipes with cooked ham! Some are traditional in particular regions, others are popular all over the country. The 7 traditional Italian pasta recipes below are just an example of the many ways Italians pair cooked ham with pasta.
What’s the difference between Italian cooked ham and other hams?
Cooked hams are popular in many countries. But, although I’m not an expert, it’s fair to say that they don’t all taste the same. The differences are the result of the breed of pig, what it’s fed and how the ham is processed and cooked. Like prosciutto crudo, good quality Italian cooked ham is made from the thigh of Italian pigs according to strict methods of production.
It is bright pink in colour and lighter in flavour than crudo. Before cooking the ham, they debone it and inject it with a brine which often contains a number of herbs and spices. The ham is then massaged to distribute the brine. After that, it’s pressed into molds to shape it and slow cooked al vapore (steamed). There are also some Italian roasted hams, the production of which is the same except for the cooking method.
These 7 Italian pasta recipes with ham.
As I mentioned above, Italians don’t cook a whole ham for a meal at home. But, they do use cooked ham in a lot of pasta recipes. Mostly, these recipes are made with thick slices of ham cut into small cubes or juliennes. So, the following pasta recipes with ham can be made either with the leftovers from a holiday ham or with ham bought specifically to use in them. Most of these recipes are pretty easy to make and are perfect for family meals.
Click the recipe name to go to the recipe post and instructions.
Tagliolini au gratin.
The original version of this baked tagliolini dish is from Cipriani’s Harry’s bar in Venice. This pasta au gratin recipe is a real gem that’s perfect for family meals. All you need is pasta, eggs, ham, grated Parmigiano and cream. You can use tagliatelle too!
Made this recipe tonight. It was a big hit. My husband is Italian and hard to please. He loved it. So easy. NonaFrom the recipe reviews and comments
Garganelli pasta with ham, zucchini flowers and saffron.
This beautiful summer pasta recipe is so delicate and creamy that you are certain to fall in love with it. I’m certain once you’ve tried it, you’ll want to make it time and again (at least while zucchini/courgette flowers are in season!)
Creamy ham and tomato penne al baffo.
One of the latest recipes published here on The Pasta Project, this is a perfect weeknight pasta recipe. Not only is this dish super creamy and full of flavour but, it’s so fast and easy to make. In fact, you can have it on the table in the time it takes to boil the water and cook your pasta!
This was such a delicious recipe. The contrast of the ham and sauce was amazing! Shannafrom the recipe reviews and comments.
Neapolitan baked ziti pasta al gratin.
This is a traditional dish from Naples, Southern Italy. Like other pasta al forno recipes, baked ziti al gratin is popular for family meals on Sundays and holidays. However, this delicious baked pasta comes together very quickly and can easily be on your menu for weeknights too.
This recipe was a lovely change to my normal ziti dish. I loved the addition of bechamel sauce and ham! Capri
Penne alla Valdostana.
This creamy cheesy pasta alla Valdostana comes from the Aosta Valley in Northern Italy. The Aosta Valley is famous for its cheese, particularly Fontina a super melting cheese used in many dishes including Italian fondue. Apart from the cheese all you need is ham, butter, parmigiano and cream, oh and the pasta, of course! Have it on the table in 30 minutes!
This was marvelous. I was able to find some Fontina cheese in our local market and made sure I kept it for this recipe. Made it tonight– our first really cool evening here in central California–so good! Allen
Tagliolini pasta arancini.
Another recipe from Naples, these pasta arancini are a popular street food that date back to the 1800s! Made with pasta nests filled with ham and cheese and then breaded and fried, these will win you over on the first bite! They are perfect as a snack, light lunch or as party food. Also, a great way to use up leftover pasta.
When I was in the military, I traveled to Naples for a conference. I had the street version of these croquettes. I loved them so much I had them every night of my conference on the way home! Jeannette
Pasta alla papalina.
This creamy pasta recipe from Rome is named after Pope Pius XII, who was the inspiration behind its creation. Usually made with fettuccine, this dish is super simple to make. It’s great as a family meal and a delicious way to use up leftover holiday ham!
It was DELICIOUS!! So creamy but not overly heavy, I added a few more sautéed veggies and was nervous about the eggs but it all came together and the bubbling hot sauce mixed with the hot pasta cooked the eggs. What a meal, so yummy!! Jennifer
If you like pasta with mushrooms you might also want to check out this collection of traditional mushroom pasta recipes.. click here and enjoy! 12 mushroom pasta recipes
Let me know what you think.
If you do try any of these traditional Italian pasta with ham recipes, I’d love to hear what you think. Please write a comment here on the blog or post a comment on the Pasta Project Facebook page.
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Wow, there’s such a great range of ham pasta recipes!
I’ve never thought there many types of amazing Italian pasta recipe, and I am glad to find them here. Thanks for sharing. Can’t wait to replicate some of these pasta recipes.
All of these sound and look so delicious, that Pasta Alla Papalina – WOW! I want it today!
Alice | SkinnySpatula says
So many great ideas here! I love prosciutto in pasta so much. The pasta arancini are really intriguing — I’m going to give them a try soon.
Amanda Wren-Grimwood says
We regularly cook a whole ham because we love all the things you can do with leftovers. I love all of these ideas and can’t wait to try the arancini!