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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
- 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
- Preheat oven to 500 ?.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to boil for the pasta.
- 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).
- In a large bowl, combine the cream, reduced stock, lemon zest, tarragon, cheeses, salt and pepper.
- 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.
- Boil the pasta for 4 minutes, then drain and toss into the bowl with the cream and other ingredients, mix well.
- 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.
- Remove from the oven and serve, passing breadcrumbs to sprinkle on top if desired (highly recommended).
- This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Best Baked Pasta
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