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Falstaff’s Fig and Prosciutto Penne

Updated February 23, 2016
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This image courtesy of Mark Thomas

Figs and prosciutto, a classic Italian combination, make a delicious pasta topping. If I could, I would come to your house and feed you a forkful to convince you to make it. It’s really a shame that I’m limited to words on a page, but let me try to describe flavor heaven. Dried figs simmered with wine and stock take on a delightful, complex flavor with pleasing firmness. The silky-sweet fig sauce is tossed with penne and then accented with luscious prosciutto and crunchy pistachios. Their sweetness is balanced with the piquant bite of pink peppercorn and the salty goodness of Parmesan. I named this must-try dish for Verdi’s Falstaff because it is based on the rich fruit sauces popular in the Renaissance and Elizabethan eras. It might have even been on the bill of fare at the Garter’s Inn!

You’ll notice that I didn’t add the usual tag line, “Season to taste with salt and pepper.” That’s because the dish gets enough salt from the Parmesan and enough heat from the pink peppercorns.

Serves6

Cooking Methodsauteeing

CostModerate

Easy

Total Timeunder 30 minutes

Make Ahead RecipeYes

Kid FriendlyYes

One Pot MealYes

OccasionCasual Dinner Party, Family Get-together, Formal Dinner Party

Recipe Coursemain course

Dietary Considerationpeanut free, soy free

Five Ingredients or LessYes

Mealdinner, lunch

Taste and Texturefruity, nutty, salty, savory, sweet

Type of Dishpasta, pasta sauce, sauces

Ingredients

  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 shallots, sliced
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 16 to 18 dried Calimyrna figs, about 12 ounces, thinly sliced
  • 1½ cups best-quality canned chicken stock
  • 1 pound penne
  • ¼ pound prosciutto di Parma, sliced paper thin
  • ½ cup shaved Parmesan cheese
  • ¼ cup pistachio nuts, coarsely crushed
  • 1 tablespoon whole pink peppercorns

Instructions

Heat the butter and oil in a medium sauté pan over medium heat until the butter melts. Sauté the shallots until translucent, about 3 minutes.

Add the wine and figs and simmer until the wine is absorbed and the figs are soft, about 8 minutes. Stir in the stock and simmer, covered, for about 7 minutes.

Remove from heat and let rest, covered, while you prepare the penne according to package directions. Drain and toss with the fig sauce.

Serve the penne topped with the prosciutto, Parmesan, and a sprinkle of pistachio nuts and pink peppercorns.

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