If you like pasta you are going to love this ham and mushroom tagliatelle with black pepper sauce. It’s a creamy pasta dish that can be on the table in less than half an hour – perfect for a mid-week supper.
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Ham and mushroom tagliatelle with black pepper sauce
Who doesn’t love a creamy bowl of pasta? I’ve been making this recipe for years, ever since I saw it in a magazine as a dip for potato wedges (without the tagliatelle of course). I took one look and decided it would make the perfect pasta sauce – and with a couple of adaptations, a new recipe was born!
It’s crammed with ham, mushrooms, and sweet juicy onions, which on their own are tasty enough. But the ingredient that makes it zing, is a spoonful of cracked black peppercorns. The heat from the black pepper really lifts this dish from the ordinary to the spectacular.
And it’s quick to make too – the preparation time is the time it takes to chop up the ham, onions, and mushrooms. The sauce itself only takes 15 minutes from start to finish, and if you put the pasta on to boil while you make the sauce, everything can be ready in less than half an hour.
Amazingly enough, there is no cream in this recipe – but you wouldn’t say so to taste it. If you really wanted to, you could swap some of the milk out for cream when you make the sauce, but to be honest I don’t think it’s necessary.
And to go back to the origins of this recipe, it makes the perfect dip for potato wedges. Just halve the quantity of milk and cornflour in this recipe, leave out the pasta, and serve as a dip alongside my crispy potato fries.
What you will need:
You will need a couple of saucepans – one for cooking the pasta and the other for making the ham and mushroom sauce.
You can get the complete list of ingredients and full instructions for making this ham and mushroom tagliatelle with black pepper sauce on the printable recipe card at the end of this post.
Cubed ham – I use either sliced sandwich ham, or I buy ham off-cuts from my local supermarket. They are super cheap, and one packet is normally sufficient for 2 pasta dishes, so I chop it all up in one go and then freeze half in a plastic bag ready for the next meal. I also find that leftover gammon works really well with this recipe (especially leftover oven-baked gammon). The ham should be chopped into approximately 1cm pieces.
Mushrooms – I like to use button mushrooms because they are so quick to chop up. Because they are so small you only have to halve or quarter them, and you can even leave the really small ones whole. If you don’t have button mushrooms then you can use white closed-cap or brown chestnut mushrooms.
Onion – these should be peeled and chopped into 1cm dice.
Black peppercorns – you need whole peppercorns, which have been cracked open. You can use a mortar and pestle for this, or if you don’t have a mortar and pestle then just pop the peppercorns into a plastic bag and give them a whack with a rolling pin. It works just as well. Don’t grind them up too finely though – they should be just cracked open and flattened.
You will also need a few other ingredients:
Garlic – I use my favourite brand of garlic out of a jar because it is easier. If you are so inclined you could chop up a couple of cloves of fresh garlic.
Butter – the butter is used to sweat the onions and garlic. You can use block margarine if you don’t have butter in the fridge, but I wouldn’t use oil – it won’t work with the sauce.
Milk and cornflour (or cornstarch) – used for making the sauce. If you want to be really decadent you could replace 100ml of the milk with 100ml of cream. But that’s up to you! If you want a more cheesy sauce, you could also stir in a couple of spoonfuls of cream cheese.
Tagliatelle – I like to use flat ribbon noodles for this dish, but you could use your pasta of choice.
What to do
Cook the pasta
Start off by putting the tagliatelle on to cook in a saucepan of boiling salted water. Boil for the time recommended on the packet. Drain the cooked pasta in a colander and then rinse under cold running water to stop the cooking process. Leave aside to drain until needed.
Make the sauce
Fry the onions and garlic in the butter until the onions start to soften and become translucent. I find if I turn the heat down to low and cover with a lid, the onions sweat nicely in the butter and it only takes about 5 minutes for them to soften. Don’t forget to keep your eye on them though – you don’t want them to burn.
Add the chopped mushrooms and continue frying until the mushrooms are soft. This should take about 3 minutes.
Mix in the ham and the crushed peppercorns. Then mix the milk and cornflour together, whisk to remove any lumps and pour the milk into the pan with the onions and the ham. Bring it to the boil.
Stir until the mixture is nice and thick (if you are adding cream cheese, now’s the time to add it) and then turn the heat down to a simmer and leave for 5 minutes.
At this point you should taste the dish. I haven’t listed salt as an ingredient, but you may find that you need 1/2 teaspoon of salt in the sauce. Also taste the strength of the pepper. If it is not peppery enough for your taste you can add freshly ground black pepper to spice things up a bit. Be careful with the pepper if you are going to freeze the sauce; the strength of the pepper does intensify with standing.
Add the cooked pasta and toss with 2 forks to combine. Try to get the ham and mushroom mixture nice and evenly distributed between the pasta. Leave on a low heat for another minute or two to let the pasta heat through.
Tip into a serving dish and garnish with chopped parsley, and optionally sprinkle with grated parmesan cheese.
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Can I freeze this dish?
You can freeze any leftovers in a suitable freezer container for up to 3 months. To use, let it defrost in the fridge and then reheat gently in a saucepan until piping hot. You may find the sauce is a bit too thick, in which case you can add a splash of milk to thin it down a bit.
You may also find that if you freeze the dish after you have added the pasta, that the pasta is a bit too soft once it is defrosted. So my preference is to freeze the sauce on its own and cook the pasta from fresh when needed.
Save for later
If you’d like to try this ham and mushroom tagliatelle yourself, why not pin the recipe to one of your Pinterest boards so you can find it easily. Just click the image below.
Alternatively, you can save the recipe by clicking on the floating heart icon on the right-hand side of the screen.
If you enjoyed this recipe you may also like to try some of my other pasta dishes:
- Pasta Pescatore
- One pan pasta with spicy tomato flavour
- Pad Thai Noodles with Chicken and Prawns
- Seafood linguine – with lobster
- Creamy meatball stroganoff with mushrooms
- Creamy mussel pasta
Ham and mushroom tagliatelle with black pepper sauce
(Click the stars to rate this recipe)
- 8 ounce / 225 grams cooked ham chopped into 1cm dice
- 8 ounce / 225 grams onions chopped into 1cm dice
- 6 ounce / 150 grams button mushrooms quartered
- 1 teaspoon garlic paste or crushed garlic
- 1 tablespoon crushed black peppercorns
- 2½ ounce / 75 grams butter
- 2 heaped tablespoons / 30 grams cornflour
- 2 cups milk
- 8 ounce / 225 grams dried tagliatelle or your pasta of choice
- 1 tablespoon grated parmesan cheese for garnish
- chopped parsley for garnish
- Cook the pasta in a saucepan of boiling, salted water according to the instructions on the packet.8 ounce / 225 grams dried tagliatelle
- When the pasta is cooked, drain in a colander then rinse under cold water to stop the cooking process. Drain well and set aside.
- Melt the butter in a saucepan and then fry the chopped onions and crushed garlic gently until the onions are soft and translucent.8 ounce / 225 grams onions, 2½ ounce / 75 grams butter, 1 teaspoon garlic paste or crushed garlic
- Add the chopped mushrooms and continue to fry slowly until the mushrooms soften (about 5 minutes)6 ounce / 150 grams button mushrooms
- Stir in the ham and the crushed peppercorns.8 ounce / 225 grams cooked ham, 1 tablespoon crushed black peppercorns
- Mix the cornflour into the milk and add. Bring to the boil, stirring occasionally. Then reduce the heat to a simmer and stir until the mixture thickens. Allow to simmer for a further 5 minutes2 cups milk, 2 heaped tablespoons / 30 grams cornflour
- Taste for seasoning. At this stage you could add 1/2 teaspoon salt. Add ground black pepper according to your own taste.
- Add the cooked tagliatelle and mix well to combine, then let it simmer until the pasta is warmed through.
- Tip into a serving dish and garnish with chopped parsley, and grated parmesan cheese if desired .chopped parsley, 1 tablespoon grated parmesan cheese
- Serve immediately with garlic bread
I am not a nutritionist. The nutrition information has been calculated using an on-line calculator, and is intended for information and guidance purposes only. If the nutrition information is important to you, you should consider calculating it yourself, using your preferred tool.
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