Pasta with Prosciutto Crudo, Peas, and Parmigiano-Reggiano
We’ve played around with a lot of dry-cured European hams, and this recipe has become one of those go-to lunches at our house. It’s pretty much of a classic anyway. The one trick? Make sure the pasta is slightly underdone when first cooked-it will cook a little more in the sauce.
The Ingredient Scoop:
The history of olive oil could fill a book-and the current trade disputes, a bureaucrat’s life. Suffice it to say that all olive oil is not equal. “Extra Virgin Olive Oil” seems like a moniker that should assure quality. It does not. The United States recognizes only four categories of olive oil: fancy, choice, standard, and substandard. All other labelings are mere window-dressing stateside. What’s more, even country of-origin labels can be troublesome, since Spanish olives make up 40 percent of the world’s production, are imported to Italy, and find their way into bottles labeled “Italian olive oil.” Is there anything wrong with Spanish olives? Of course not. But with deceptive labels? Emphatically yes.
What, then, to do? A well-stocked larder should have two bottlings. One should be a fragrant, sturdy oil for sauteing, roasting, and braising: not of the highest quality, but certainly with the tangy, sweet perfume of olives. Avoid bottlings that use words like “from refined olives”-which means the oil was probably extracted chemically from fermented, rotten, or already pressed olives. The larder’s second bottle should be a more precious oil, one that makes the same claims but is also far more aromatic and, in general, more costly.
Look for bottlings that claim the oil is made from “hand-picked olives” or is “first cold pressed.” And do a taste test before plunking down $20 or more for a bottle. Beyond that, know your supplier. The marketplace can be harsh and unforgiving.
Parmigiano-Reggiano (Italian, pahr-MIJ-ee-AHN-oh rehj-ee-AHN-oh) is a hard Italian cheese, made from part-skim, grass-fed, raw milk produced between April 1st and November 11th of any given year. Its hard, shell-like rind should be stamped with the cheese’s name and place of origin for authenticity. Buy a chunk from a larger wheel, a chunk with the rind still attached-but the thinnest part of rind possible to cut down on any extra cost. (Once most of the cheese has been grated away, that rind can be frozen in a sealed plastic bag for up to one year and then tossed into a bean or greens soup to make the broth richer.) Grate the cheese using a microplane, a cheese grater, or the small holes of a box grater.
Total Timeunder 30 minutes
One Pot MealYes
OccasionCooking for a date, Family Get-together
Recipe Courseappetizer, main course
Dietary Considerationappetizer, main course
Taste and Texturecheesy, garlicky, meaty, salty, sweet
Type of Dishdry pasta, pasta
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 6 medium garlic cloves, minced
- 1 medium shallot, minced
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 6 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto crudo, diced
- 2 cups fresh shelled peas or frozen peas (no need to thaw)
- ½ cup reduced-sodium, fat-free chicken broth
- 1 pound dry linguine or fettuccini, cooked and drained according to the package instructions
- 3 ounces finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (see Notes)
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Heat a large skillet over medium heat, then swirl in the oil. Add the garlic and cook just until frizzling well at the edges, no more than 30 seconds.
Toss in the shallot and red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring often, until softened and very aromatic, no more than 2 minutes.
Add the prosciutto crudo pieces and continue cooking and stirring until they’re browned at the edges, about 2 minutes.
Pour in the peas and continue cooking for 1 minute. Then add the broth and bring the sauce to a substantial simmer.
Add the cooked pasta and toss well so that everything gets mixed up in the noodles.
Sprinkle in the cheese and pepper. Toss just until the cheese melts and coats the noodles.
2010 Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough