Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Pasta with Prosciutto and Orange

Long, wiggly pasta tossed with paper-thin prosciutto all coated in a creamy sauce flavored with orange. That’s all that’s going on here. It promises to be fragrant and flavorful, comforting and a bit indulgent. It’s uncomplicated but still somewhat sophisticated.

Well, of course I complicated things just a little. I couldn’t get the idea of roasting citrus fruits out of my head after making this chutney, so I ramped up this simple dish, which comes from Bon Appetit magazine (you can see the original here at Epicurious), ever so slightly by adding some roasted orange slices. They gave it some additional chewy texture, a gently bitter and slightly acidic contrast to the creamy sauce, and, naturally, even more orange flavor.

I simply brushed the orange with a bit of olive oil and roasted it just like I did the Meyer lemons for the chutney recipe. While this adds a significant amount of time to the preparation of an otherwise quick and easy dish, it’s not difficult, and you could roast the orange ahead of time. For me, it was worth the additional effort (and additional dishes and pan to wash) because I really thought the orange pieces added a lot to the dish. Perhaps it’s a bit unusual to toss chunks of roasted orange in with noodles in cream sauce, but I found it fabulous. If you’re willing to consider the additional oranges, but you don’t like the bitterness of orange rind and pith, you might be able to remove it and add just the orange flesh to your pasta.

While I’m still excited about roasted citrus slices, I think I’m even more excited about the possibilities of variations on the basic techniques in this dish. How about a lemon-flavored sauce tossed with pasta and asparagus in the spring? Or a lime sauce with shrimp or scallops, cilantro and scallions? With or without the added roasted citrus those ideas both sound delicious to me. And as simple as they could be, I’m sure I’ll find some way to complicate them, creating even more dirty dishes in the process.

Pasta with Prosciutto and Roasted Orange
Adapted from Bon Appetit, May 2011

The original recipe calls for 12 ounces of pasta. I only had 10 ounces of fettuccine, and found that to be a good amount to go with the other ingredients.

2 medium-size navel oranges
olive oil for brushing the orange
10 ounces dried long pasta (I used fettuccine)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 ounces thinly-sliced prosciutto, chopped or torn into bite-size pieces
½ cup heavy cream
freshly ground black pepper to taste
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
salt to taste if needed

1. Preheat the oven to 400 F (about 205 C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Brush the paper or mat with a thin layer of olive oil.

2. Cut about ¼ inch off each end of one of the oranges and discard those ends. Cut the orange into slices about ¼- ½ inch thick. Arrange the slices in a single layer on the oiled and lined baking sheet. Brush the orange slices with more olive oil

3. Place the orange slices in the preheated oven and roast for 10 minutes. Turn the slices over and roast about 10 minutes more. If any begin to brown, remove them from the pan. Continue to roast until the oranges have just a few brown spots. Remove from the pan and set aside to cool.

4. When the roasted orange is cool, cut the slices into bite-size wedges. Remove the orange part of the zest of the remaining orange (I like to use a microplane grater) and set aside. Squeeze the juice from the zested orange and set aside.

5. Cook the pasta in boiling salted water until it is just a bit firmer than you like to eat it. Reserve about ½ cup of the pasta cooking water. (I try to time the pasta cooking such that it is done just when it is time to put it in the pan. If your pasta is done cooking early, drain it, being sure to reserve the some of the water, and keep it hot.)

6. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the prosciutto and cook until browned and crisp.

7. Add ¼ cup of the reserved pasta water, the orange juice, orange zest and heavy cream. Bring to a boil.

8. Add the cooked pasta and roasted orange pieces. Toss with the sauce and prosciutto and cook until the sauce is thick and has coated the pasta. If the sauce seems too thick or dry, add more of the reserved pasta water.

9. Stir in the Parmesan cheese and black pepper. Taste for salt and add some if desired. Serve with additional Parmesan cheese.

Makes about 4 servings.

Other recipes like this one: Roasted Meyer Lemon Chutney; Pasta Carbonara with Garlic Scapes and Garlic Chives; Pasta with Yellow Squash, Corn and Bacon

One year ago: Winter Squash and Chickpea Salad with Apricots and Tahini Dressing

Two years ago: Chickpea Stew with Dried Apricots

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