30 Minute Pasta ~ Penne with Prosciutto & Asparagus in Cream sauce

22 11 2009

Not long ago, Angela, hostess of Spinach Tiger, was granted an interview with Marcella Hazan’s family members, Giuliano and Lael Hazan.  In the interview, Angela asked Giuliano which of his recipes he’d recommend we supplement our experiences cooking his mother’s recipes with, and he suggested we look to his newest book, Thirty Minute Pasta.  As soon as I received it, I could see why.  Giuliano has adapted many of his mother’s recipes for the career minded person, who still wants a quality, home cooked meal at the end of their day.  Using a few minor shortcuts, such as canned beans and tomatoes, and good quality packaged pasta Giuliano still puts a fabulous recipe together, complete with directions about when to start what so that the sauce and pasta come together at the same time.  No, you won’t find the time honored, time consuming sauces like Bolognese here, because there is no substitute for the real thing.  But, there’s a Ragu nonetheless.

Penne with prosciutto and asparagus in a cream sauce

The first recipe I tried was a penne pasta with prosciutto and asparagus in a creamy sauce.  Oh, my…this was so easy!  In the time it took the pasta water to come to a boil, I was able to precook the asparagus and cut it, cut the prosciutto, and get the sauce ingredients ready to go.  Before I drained the pasta, I pulled off a couple tablespoons of water, just in case I needed it to help with the sauce.  With the pasta drained and everything tossed together, we were ready to eat in just about 30 minutes.

Penne with prosciutto and asparagus, close up

Tasting Notes~
Doesn’t that look wonderful?  It was just as creamy and soothing as it looks.  I loved the sauce.  It’s perfect for penne or radiatore…something that reaches out and grabs sauce in the ridges.  Those tiny thin spears of asparagus literally cooked in mere seconds, a;most as fast as the prosciutto did!  Hubby said he wouldn’t have minded a few mushrooms in the mix as well.  I told him I’d note that for another time, because he’s right.  It would have been a nice touch.   This went together so incredibly fast, I can see myself fixing a lot of variations on this theme… Shrimp with asparagus would be just as wonderful…with maybe a bit of lemon zest in the sauce…or use broccoli instead of asparagus…or peas…or a combination of colors…red and yellow peppers with broccoli or asparagus.  I’m going to love this book.  Fresh food in thirty minutes that’s really thirty minutes that’s easy and comforting, with protein and veggies covered in one fell swoop with minimal fat.  Think about it…it’s really remarkably balanced.  There’s protein in the sauce ingredients and the prosciutto, but not much fat in the meat, only in the cheese and the olive oil…and it’s olive oil balancing the cheese.  You’ve got a carb, but no fat there, and vegetable, with no additional fat there.  I’m enchanted!