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Photo by: Joseph De Leo
Orecchiette, which means “little ears” in Italian, are just the right shape for this dish. The sauce, delicate yet packed with garlic, red pepper essence, and a zesty undertone of lemon, is a very easy preparation for pasta-lovers. This is excellent served in the spring when asparagus are young and bursting with flavor. You don’t need to peel the spears if they are thin. Begin with Belgian Endive Salad with Pears, Gorgonzola, and Pecans and serve biscotti and sorbet for dessert.
1. In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook the pasta for about 10 minutes, or until al dente.
2. Meanwhile, make the sauce: In a large, deep skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the asparagus and sauté, tossing with tongs, for about 3 minutes, or until slightly softened. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook 1 minute, making sure the garlic does not burn. Lower the heat and add the broth, ricotta, lemon zest, and prosciutto. Stir to combine well. Season with salt and pepper.
3. Drain the pasta, reserving ½ cup of the pasta water. Add the pasta to the ricotta mixture. If it is too dry, add a bit of the pasta water to moisten. Toss to combine. Serve in shallow pasta bowls and pass Parmesan cheese, if desired.
The sauce may be prepared up to 1 hour ahead and covered. Reheat gently.
The clever cook could:
1. Omit the prosciutto for a vegetarian version; substitute a chopped, sautéed portobello mushroom.
2. Use fusilli, penne, or bow-tie pasta.
3. Substitute broccoli florets for the asparagus.
Nutrients per serving (% daily value)
Nutritional information is based on 6 servings, 1/8 teaspoon of added salt per serving, and does not include optional Freshly grated Parmesan cheese for serving.
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