Pasta with Asparagus, Ricotta, and Prosciutto

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Ingredients

  • Water
  • Salt
  • 1 pound orecchiette, penne, fusilli or bow-tie pasta

Sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound thin asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon crushed red pepper, or to taste
  • 1⁄2 cup chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 cup low-fat ricotta cheese
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 3 ounces prosciutto, chopped
  • 12 teardrop tomatoes, halved, optional
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Grated parmesan cheese, for serving

Instructions

  1. In a large, deep skillet, heat the olive oil on medium-high heat. Add the asparagus and sauté, tossing with tongs, for about 3 minutes or until slightly softened.
  2. Add the garlic and crushed red pepper and cook only a minute, making sure the garlic does not burn.
  3. Lower the heat and add the stock, ricotta, lemon zest, prosciutto and tomatoes (if using), and mix to combine completely. Season with salt and pepper. Taste for seasoning.
  4. Bring a large pot of salted boiling water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente.
  5. When the pasta is cooked, drain, saving a half of a cup of cooking water for later. Add the pasta to the ricotta mixture. If it is too dry, add a bit of the saved cooking water. Mix. Cook for a minute on low heat.
  6. Serve in shallow pasta bowls with parmesan cheese, if desired.

Tips

  • Select young pencil-thin asparagus wit bright green stalks and tight tips. This way, you won’t have to bother peeling each stalk. This really cuts down on your preparation time. Just cut or snap off the tough bottoms and then cut the stalks into 2-inch pieces, making sure to keep the whole tip as one piece.
  • When making pasta, add a bit of the pasta cooking water to the sauce to control the thickness.
  • Also, when cooking pasta, combine the cooked, drained pasta and the sauce over heat for a minute to marry the flavors. It allows all of the ingredients to blend together.

Serves 4-6 people.

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