Penne Pasta with Lemon Cream and Prosciutto

penne proshuto1I’m not a huge fan of cream based pasta sauces. Having said that, whenever I cook this dish, I try to resist the temptation of grabbing a spoon and eating the sauce like soup. I got the inspiration for this pasta, from Café Tosca’s “Lumaconi with Prosciutto” in San Fransisco. They make the sauce by boiling prosciutto in cream and then serving it sprinkled with lemony breadcrumbs. This version is simpler, easier to prepare and insanely delicious.

Ingredients

  • 140 grams prosciutto, divided
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 small red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 sprigs thyme
  • ¼ cup brandy
  • 1 ½ cup cream
  • 1 lemon
  • 500 grams penne pasta
  • 2 Tbs parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • fresh basil leaves to garnish

Method

With a sharp knife take the peel off the lemon taking care not to peel too much ofthe white part too. Keep the peel in a bowl. Juice the lemon and keep in another bowl until needed.

Chop 90 grams of the prosciutto. In a large pan, put the olive oil over medium heat. Add the chopped prosciutto and cook, stirring utnil slightly crisp. Add the onion and garlic and cook for a couple of minutes utnil soft. Add the brandy and let it evaporate for ½ -1 minute. Pour in the cream and the thyme sprigs and lower the heat. Add the lemon peel and simmer 3-4 minutes.

Boil plenty of salted water in a large pot. Add the pasta and cook, 3 minutes less than the time indicated on the packet instructions. Drain but keep some of the pasta water.

Remove the lemon peel from the prosciuto cream and discard. Mix the cooked pasta with the lemon cream, peas and parsley. Add 2-3 tablespoons of pasta water to loosen the mixture. Mix in 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Serve at once, topped with the rest of the prosciutto, lemon zest if you like, basil leaves and plenty of freshly ground black pepper.

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