Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
Add the pasta and 1 tablespoon of the salt. Return to a boil and cook the pasta until al dente, stirring occasionally to prevent the noodles from sticking, about 10 to 12 minutes.
Meanwhile, melt the butter and heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
Add the ham, if desired, and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
Add the onion and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.
Add the garlic, and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds.
Add the heavy cream and bring to a boil. Cook until the volume is reduced by half, about 5 minutes. If desired, add the peas. Add the remaining teaspoon of salt and the pepper, and stir well.
Using oven mitts or pot holders, drain the pasta in a colander set in the sink and place the pasta in a large bowl.
Pour the sauce over the pasta. Add the cheese and toss to coat.
If desired, add the parsley and adjust the seasoning to taste.
YIELD: 6 servings