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Shells with Ricotta, Peas and Prosciutto




"Life is a combination of magic and pasta."
~ Federico Fellini

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Friday, November 10, 2006

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Shells with Ricotta, Peas, and Prosciutto

The Quick Recipe
The Quick Recipe

Cook’s Illustrated Magazine, 2003

Serves 4

Time: 25 minutes

“While any ricotta can be used in this recipe, it pays to use a high-quality cheese rather than the typically watery supermarket brands.
Look for fresh, creamy (not curdy) ricotta at an Italian grocer, gourmet market, or specialty cheese shop. This dish calls for a lot of black pepper, but the heat works well with the mild, creamy cheese.”

1 cup whole-milk ricotta
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
Salt and ground black pepper
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 pound thinly sliced prosciutto, cut into 1/4-inch strips
1 medium onion, chopped fine
2 medium cloves garlic, minced or pressed through a garlic press
1 pound small shells or penne
2 cups frozen peas
1 tablespoon juice from 1 lemon

1. Bring 4 quarts water to a rolling boil in a large pot for cooking the pasta.
2. Place the ricotta, Parmesan, butter, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a bowl large enough to hold the cooked pasta and set it aside.
3. Heat the oil and prosciutto in a medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the prosciutto is well browned and crisp, 4 to 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the prosciutto to a plate lined with a paper towel. Add the onion to the empty pan, reduce the heat to medium, and cook until lightly golden, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and continue to cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Transfer the onion mixture to the bowl with the ricotta mixture.
4. Meanwhile, add 1 tablespoon salt and the pasta to the boiling water and stir to separate. When the pasta is about 1 minute shy of al dente, add the peas and continue to cook until the peas are warmed through and the pasta is al dente. Reserving 1 cup cooking water, drain the pasta and peas. Add 1/2 cup reserved cooking water and the lemon juice to the ricotta mixture and whisk until smooth. Add the pasta and peas to the bowl and toss to coat, adding more reserved cooking water as necessary to moisten the pasta. Adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately, garnishing each portion with crisp prosciutto.

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