Ciao Italia: My Lifelong Food Adventures in Italy
Mary Ann's newest book contains over 150 recipes, 60 gorgeous food photos, and many scenic pictures of Italy taken by Mary Ann on her travels through the years.
SERVES 8 TO 10
Garganelli, a handmade tubular-shaped pasta with Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese in the dough, gets its classic shape from a comblike device called a pettine, which is used to create lines in the dough. Garganelli are usually served with a butter or tomato sauce, but I also like this cream sauce with crispy bits of prosciutto and asparagus. Serve garganelli as an elegant first course for a dinner party. Save time by cooking the asparagus and making the sauce ahead.
3/4 pound asparagus
1 1/4 teaspoons fine sea salt
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 pound prosciutto, diced
1 1/3 cups light cream
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1 recipe Garganelli
Wash the asparagus and bend the stem with your hands; it will break at just the right point. Discard the woody stems and cut the asparagus in half. Set aside.
Fill a 1-quart saucepan with water and bring to a boil. Add 1 teaspoon of the salt and the asparagus. Cook, uncovered, just until a knife easily pierces the stalk, about 5 minutes. Drain the asparagus in a colander and set aside. (This step can be done ahead and the asparagus refrigerated covered until ready to use.)
Melt the butter in a medium-size sauté pan, taking care not to let it brown. Add the prosciutto and cook slowly over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the prosciutto is crisp and browned. Remove the prosciutto with a slotted spoon to a dish lined with paper towels. (This step can be done several hours ahead.) Wash out and dry the sauté pan.
Pour the cream into the sauté pan and at low heat stir in the cheese. Stir in the asparagus. Add the remaining ¼ teaspoon salt just before cooking the garganelli.
Cook the garganelli according to the instructions. Drain the garganelli when al dente, reserving 2 tablespoons of the cooking water, and transfer them to a serving platter. Stir the reserved water into the sauce and pour the sauce over the garganelli. Use two serving spoons to mix and evenly distribute the sauce. Scatter the prosciutto over the top and serve immediately.