Serves a Crowd

Penne with Asparagus, Proscuitto and Lemon

by:
January 21, 2010
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
Ingredients
  • 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
In This Recipe
Directions
  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).
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Review
I am a father of five, who recently completed a two year professional hiatus during which I indulged my long held passion for cooking by moving to France to study the culinary arts and immerse myself in all things French. I earned “Le Grande Diplome” from Le Cordon Bleu, studied also at The Ritz Escoffier and Lenotre cooking schools, and completed the course offerings of the Bordeaux L’Ecole du Vin. About six months ago started "Oui, Chef", which is a food blog that exists as an extension of my efforts to teach my children a few things about cooking, and how our food choices over time effect not only our own health, but that of our local food communities and our planet at large. By sharing some of our cooking experiences through the blog, I hope to inspire other families to start spending more time together in the kitchen, cooking healthy meals as a family, passing on established familial food traditions, and perhaps starting some new ones.