Penne with Asparagus, Proscuitto and Lemon

By • January 21, 2010 9 Comments

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Author Notes: This is my adaptation of a dish from the fabulous "Al Forno" restaurant in Providence, RI. The key to it's success comes from cooking it in a large enough pan to hold all the pasta in a very thin layer. This allows the pasta to cook to al dente, and the asparagus to just cook through in a short amount of time in a very hot oven. The flavors of the lemon, tarragon, proscuitto and asparagus marry perfectly....don't expect any left-overs.Oui, Chef

Serves 8

  • 1 pound penne rigate
  • 3/4 cup pecorino romano cheese, freshly grated
  • 3/4 cup fontina cheese, freshly grated
  • 3 tablespoons ricotta cheese
  • 1-1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup rich chicken stock (2 cups good quality low-sodium stock, reduced by half)
  • 1 bunch asparagus, washed, dried and root ends trimmed
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon fresh tarragon, finely minced
  • 5 ounces thinly sliced imported prosciutto, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and a few grinds of white pepper
  • 1/3 cup seasoned breadcumbs
  1. Preheat oven to 500 ?.
  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil for the pasta.
  3. For the breadcrumbs - in a saute pan heat 2 tablespoons EVOO over medium heat and toast 1 cup of panko breadcrumbs, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper until golden brown.  Spread on a plate to cool.  (Keep the balance for 2 days in the fridge, or a long time in the freezer).
  4. In a large bowl, combine the cream, reduced stock, lemon zest, tarragon, cheeses, salt and pepper.
  5. Slice the asparagus on an extreme bias, about 1/8-1/4” thick and toss into a small bowl with the melted butter, mix to coat.
  6. Boil the pasta for 4 minutes, then drain and toss into the bowl with the cream and other ingredients, mix well.
  7. Pour the pasta into a large baking dish or roasting pan so that it fits comfortably in a thin layer no more than 1” deep. Sprinkle the sliced asparagus and chopped prosciutto on top and toss it into the oven for 10-12 minutes, until the sauce is bubbling, and the pasta is just starting to brown.
  8. Remove from the oven and serve, passing breadcrumbs to sprinkle on top if desired (highly recommended).

More Great Recipes: Pasta|Pork|Entrees|Asparagus|Ricotta

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Comments (9) Questions (0)


over 5 years ago elle07

I made this on Friday evening and it was a huge success. I substituted white wine for some of the chicken stock, added sliced green onions and added fresh lemon juice at the end. Everyone loved it and there were no leftovers.

Quick question: My cream separated. Any suggestion on how to avoid that next time I make it?


over 5 years ago Kelsey Banfield

I really like the addition of asparagus in this, it is one of my favorite vegetables and not one I'd thought to bake with pasta.


over 5 years ago Oui, Chef

I generally wouldn't either because most baked pastas cook for so long that the asparagus would end up limp and nasty....ugh. The keys to this dish, a quick high temp "bake", and slicing the asparagus spears nice and thin, leave them a brilliant green with a satisfying crunch.


over 5 years ago lastnightsdinner

Can you believe we've lived here almost two years and have get to get over to Al Forno? Yeesh. This looks fabulous, and will be a perfect dish to make when the first asparagus shows up at the market.


over 5 years ago Oui, Chef

You are absolutely right. This dish is never better than with early spring asparagus. You MUST try "Al Forno" soon, although my last few meals in Providence have been at "Gracie's" across from the Trinity Rep Theater, it is also terrific!


over 5 years ago TasteFood

This makes me think of springtime on a plate, which is perfect for combating the deluge we are experiencing right now.


over 5 years ago Oui, Chef

Thanks. If only springtime on a plate could stop the rain, huh? How are you all it ever going to stop?


over 5 years ago TasteFood

We might have to build an ark.


over 5 years ago ENunn

Ahhhah oui.