Satisfy your pasta craving even when the weather is warming up and you want something light with this flavor packed Prosciutto and Asparagus Pasta!
Spring is easily my favorite season. I love almost everything about it, even the occasional rainy days. After a long, cold, brown winter, seeing everything slowly coming back to life, hearing the birds sing, and feeling the warm sun on my face during the sunny days does my soul some real good. That’s especially true this year! We suffered an extra long winter thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic and resulting social distancing directives, and while I still advocate using caution, I feel like the sunnier days and blooming flowers are perking us all up a little and giving us hope that maybe one day soon life can return to some sort of semblance of normalcy. At least they are for me.
Spring is also the time when we start to get fresh veggies that don’t have to be shipped in from warmer climates (don’t get me wrong, I do buy lots of produce during the winter, but buying items that are in season locally always seems to make everything taste better). If you garden and have planted for a spring crop, you can go out and start to snip chives and pick lettuce and radishes. And of course we can’t forget that spring is prime asparagus season! I didn’t fully appreciate this delectable vegetable until I was in my late twenties, but now I can’t get enough of it. It may have something to do with being married to a Dutchie that used to work on an asparagus farm (the Dutch LOVE their asparagus, especially white asparagus…I’ll share that recipe with you as soon as I find some white asparagus in the market!). But my love for those tasty green stalks began well before I met him with this exact pasta dish.
Prosciutto and Asparagus Pasta is another one of those dishes that was inspired by my time at La Scala Italian Restaurant in Lafayette. It’s based on a dish that used to be on their menu and was popular in the spring and summer months. They would also have a version that substituted salmon for the prosciutto available around Easter time; it was just as good and you could easily do the same at home! It’s a light, delicious pasta that is ready in no time!
It’s a good idea to have all of your ingredients prepped before you start cooking with this one, mostly because it just moves so darn fast. Once you’ve got everything diced and sliced, cook the pasta according to the package directions, making sure to salt your water well. While the pasta is cooking, heat olive oil and butter in large skillet. Throw in the garlic and stir it around for just about a minute, being careful not to burn it. Next, toss in your diced asparagus, and give it a good stir to coat it in the olive oil/butter/garlic. Let it saute for about 30 seconds or so, then stir in the prosciutto. Once that’s had a chance to saute for another minute or so, add in a touch of chicken stock, scraping the bottom of the pan. Turn down the heat to medium/low until your pasta is ready. Drain the pasta, making sure to reserve some pasta water, and add the pasta and about a 1/4 cup of the pasta water to the skillet. Stir to get everything coated. If it’s looking a little dry, add a little bit more butter and a little bit more pasta water. There shouldn’t be any liquid in the bottom the skillet, but the pasta should look kind of shiny and well coated. Remove from the heat and toss in the parmesan. A note on the cheese: the canister of parm that we used to put on spaghetti when we were kids isn’t going to cut it here. If you can’t find parm in block form to freshly grate (I can’t where I live…I store up on it when I go to the ‘big city’ and stick it in the freezer!), the tubs of grated parm that you find at the front of most grocery stores with the other specialty cheeses will work just fine! Pile a bunch of pasta in a big bowl and move on down the road to pasta heaven!
Prosciutto and Asparagus Pasta
- 1 lb penne pasta
- 2 tbsp butter + 1 tbsp
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 lb asparagus diced
- 1 4 oz package prosciutto diced
- 1 clove minced garlic
- 1/4 cup chicken broth
- 1/2 cup reserved pasta cooking water
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- fresh ground pepper to taste
- Cook the penne according to the package directions, making sure the water is well salted.
- In a large skillet, heat the butter and olive oil until the butter is melted.
- Add the garlic to the skillet, cooking until fragrant. Stir in the asparagus, cooking for about 30 seconds.
- Stir in the prosciutto, allowing to cook until it starts to turn a little darker.
- Add the chicken broth, making sure to scrape the bottom of the pan.
- When the pasta is finished cooking, drain but reserve about 1/2 cup of the pasta water. Toss the pasta and about 1/4 cup of the pasta water in with the other ingredients in the skillet. Make sure that the pasta looks shiny and well coated, but there is no liquid in the bottom of the pan. If it seems dry, add a little more pasta water.
- Remove from the heat and toss in the Parmesan.