The Cottage Smallholder

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Simple, delicious spaghetti recipe: with a ham, dill and cream sauce

Spaghetti with a ham, dill and cream sauce

Spaghetti with a ham, dill and cream sauce

Some of the best recipes are not written down. These recipes are so good that they allow for flexibility and still taste delicious.

I overheard this recipe at a party.
“We were walking in the mountains and my friend gathered some wild dill.”
My ears clicked into overdrive.
“Back home, she cooked some spaghetti. Chopped up the dill and a little ham. Added these and some cream to the spaghetti. Heaven.”

This recipe saved my blushes many years ago. I’d invited Danny to stay at the cottage for the first time. I’d invited some old friends to meet him. I imagined a relaxed evening – good food, conversation and wine.

This was back in my computer animation days. I’d been working in Kent. A job that should have taken a couple of days had atrophied into five and I arrived home exhausted with just an hour or so to spare before Danny arrived.

In fact he walked up the drive as I was easing a wheelbarrow through the front door to borrow some logs from a neighbour. A log fire can be a soothing distraction.

I’d had a poke about in the fridge and found a few bits of salad. I always had plenty of wine. There wasn’t time to drive into Newmarket and the big shops. So I decided to test out the dill and ham spaghetti dish. We drove to a nearby village shop and brought ham and cream. Dill grows wild at the cottage.

With no starter or pud I was taking a bit of a risk that evening. But everyone loved the pasta.
“Who needs a starter with a dish this good?”

I think that the well stocked drinks tray helped a bit too.

Since then I’ve tweaked the recipe a bit. I prefer pasta simmered in stock – vegetable or chicken stock cubes work fine. Stirring in parmesan also adds a little depth to the dish. We usually serve this with garlic bread and a summery salad of thinly sliced courgettes.
N.B. Some people call wild dill wild fennel.

Simple, delicious spaghetti with a ham, dill and cream sauce (for 2 hungry people)

225g of dried spaghetti
1 large handful of fresh dill (remove the thicker stalks and chop the fine leaves roughly to release more flavour)
2 slices of ham ideally (it works very well with just 1 slice if it’s thick)
100ml-150ml of double cream
Freshly ground white pepper
4 tbsp of freshly grated parmesan
2 chicken stock cubes

Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil, add the stock cubes and spaghetti. Bring back to the boil and simmer rapidly until the spaghetti is cooked to your taste.

Meanwhile chop the dill and ham.

When the spaghetti is ready, drain. Add the dill, ham, 2 tbsp of grated parmesan and cream. Sir well and season to taste. Put the lid on the pan for a minute or so for the ham to warm through.

Serve on warm plates with a good twist of white pepper and a sprinkle of parmesan.

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  1. Sandra

    My cousin Carmela cooked a dish like this for us the last time we were in Italy visiting family. She used tagliatelle instead of spaghetti. It was delicious. So simple yet so fabulous. It formed part of a beautifully well balanced meal and was followed by a kind of local parmigiana dish and steamed mussels. Truly fantastic.

  2. Veronica

    That sounds lovely, Fiona. It’s what I call a “default dinner” : something delicious and satisfying that you can rustle up from ingredients on hand when you’re tired, broke, and/or short of time or ideas and just want some comfort food!

  3. mrsmortis

    I do something very similar to this but I use fromage frais instead of cream. It’s much healthier (it even fits into the slimming world diet if you use the very low fat one) and I like the slightly acidic edge that the fromage frais brings to the dish.

  4. Thanks for this recipe it looks soo good, just my kind of thing, I will make it sometime this week, I have some dill growing at the moment mainly for gravadlax and have been struggling for good ideas to use it so thank-you very much.

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