Sunday, February 10, 2013

Orecchiete with Pistachios, Asparagus and Prosciutto

This dish is just plain delicious.  It is simple yet sophisticated, rustic yet elegant, impressive, yet easy to make.  The Pistachios add a wonderful sweet flavor and crunch to the dish and pair beautifully with the blanched asparagus.  Finished with wisps of chopped prosciutto and a dusting of parmesan, this dish is a party in your mouth where all the fun people came!  Best of all the cup-shaped orecchiete pasta (Or-eh-kyeh-tee; little ears) cradles all the pesto-like sauce in every bite.

If you can't find orecchiete, Farfalle (butterflies) would be a good substitute.

Orecchiete with Pistachios, Asparagus and Prosciutto
serves 6-8

1 lb Asparagus, woody ends trimmed
1 lb dried orecchiete pasta
1 1/2 cups shelled pistachios
1/2 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic
1 Tbsp fresh rosemary
2 oz. thinly slices prosciutto, chopped
4 scallions, choped
1 cup reserved pasta cooking water
salt and pepper
grated parmesan cheese.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

Plunge the asparagus into the boiling water and cook just until the water begins to return to a boil.  Immediately remove the asparagus and plunge into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process.  Dry asparagus briefly on paper toweling and cut into 1-inch lengths.

Return water ro a boil, and add orecchiete pasta and cook according to package directions until al dente.

While pasta is cooking, chop Pistachios in a food processor.  Transfer chopped nuts to a large serving bowl.  

Combine Olive oil, garlic and rosemary in food processor and chop until emulsified and well-blended.  Add to Pistachios in serving bowl.

When Pasta is finished cooking, drain (reserving one cup of the cooking water) and immediately add pasta to serving bowl with Pistachio "pesto".  Toss to combine.  Add Asparagus, prosciutto and chopped scallions and toss well.  Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.  Add the reserved pasta cooking water to thin the dish and make a light sauce.  Serve hot with grated parmesan cheese.

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