Snap off and discard the woody bases from the fresh asparagus, if using. Bias-slice the asparagus into 1-inch pieces. (Or thaw and drain the frozen asparagus. )
FOR SAUCE, in a medium saucepan combine stewed tomatoes, parsley, basil, oregano, and ground red pepper, if desired. Bring to boiling. Simmer the sauce, uncovered, about 15 minutes or till reduced to 2-1/2 cups, stirring occasionally. Add the evaporated milk all at once, stirring constantly. Heat mixture through; do not boil.
Meanwhile, prepare pasta according to package directions EXCEPT add the asparagus, ham and sweet pepper to the boiling water during the last 4 minutes of cooking time. Drain pasta and vegetables.
To serve, place pasta mixture on a serving platter. Spoon the sauce over the pasta. Serve with Parmesan cheese, if desired. Serve at once.
Makes 4 or 5 main-dish servings.
SOURCE: Better Homes and Gardens Magazine, March 1993