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Orecchiette with Asparagus, Leeks, Peas and Prosciutto

Orecchiette with Asparagus, Leeks, Peas and Prosciutto

Tiny pasta “ears” are the perfect vessel to scoop up a rich, creamy sauce full of crisp asparagus, tender leeks, peas and strips of savory prosciutto. It’s a delicious way to weave comfort into early spring vegetables!

The transition of seasons brings a new crop of produce into the markets and it’s hard to resist those gorgeous stalks of asparagus, perfect to get this pasta dish started. The stalks of asparagus are sautéed with leeks and strips of prosciutto and layered into a sauce made with cream, mascarpone and Parmesan cheese creating a silky sauce. Then peas are tossed in along with a touch of lemon plus a sprinkling of nutmeg, adding a subtle note of spice and brightness.

Bringing another layer to the dish, the pasta is cooked in chicken stock just until tender, soaking up that flavor and richness.

Then everything is tossed together, those tiny shells of pasta and spring vegetables coated in sauce. And just before serving, finish with a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese and chopped parsley.

Some tips on a few of the ingredients. Store stalks of asparagus upright with the bottoms resting in a small amount of water and keep refrigerated to extend the freshness of the stalks.

Leeks often hold dirt inside their leaves and need to be washed thoroughly. Start by trimming off the root end and the dark green leaves, keeping the whiter portion of the leek. Then cut an “X” into the stalk down towards the root end. Soak the leeks cut side down in cold water for about 15 minutes – this will help the leaves open up making it easier to remove any remaining grit.

For the peas, go for fresh if they’re available but organic frozen peas are really wonderful. They’re handy to keep in the freezer for a quick side or addition to pasta or salad.

This is not a complicated dish and it doesn’t take all that long to pull together. It’s a luscious “one pot dish” ready to help usher in the early spring crop!

Orecchiette with Asparagus, Leeks, Peas and Prosciutto

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 pound fresh asparagus, tough ends removed and cut into bite-size pieces

2 small leeks, trimmed (using white part only), cleaned and chopped – about 1-1/2 cups

6 slices prosciutto, about 3 ounces

1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided

¼ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

1 pound orecchiette

5 cups chicken stock

1 teaspoon concentrated chicken stock, such as Better Than Bouillon

2 cups heavy cream

¼ cup mascarpone

Zest of 1 lemon, about ½ teaspoon

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1 cup organic frozen peas, thawed

¼ cup grated Parmesan, plus extra for garnish

Freshly chopped parsley for garnish

Warm the olive in a stockpot over medium heat. Toss in the asparagus, leeks and prosciutto seasoning with ½ teaspoon kosher salt and the pepper. Sauté until the leeks are translucent and the asparagus is bright green and tender crisp, about 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.

Pour the chicken stock into the same stockpot. Add the pasta along with the concentrated chicken stock and remaining ½ teaspoon salt. Raise the heat just a bit and bring the stock to a boil. Cook until the pasta is tender, stirring frequently, about 15 to 17 minutes. Check the pasta after about 12 minutes; different brands will differ on the cooking time. The pasta will absorb most of the stock as it cooks.

Reduce the heat to low and add the cream, mascarpone cheese, lemon juice and zest, nutmeg and peas along with the asparagus, leeks and prosciutto, stirring to blend together.

Mix in the Parmesan cheese and continue cooking on low for about 5 minutes to thicken the sauce slightly.

Serve with an extra sprinkling of Parmesan cheese and a bit of chopped parsley.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Orecchiette with Asparagus, Leeks, Peas and Prosciutto, courtesy of Preserving Good Stock

March 4, 2020
: Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Tiny pasta “ears” are the perfect vessel to scoop up a rich, creamy sauce full of crisp asparagus, tender leeks, peas and strips of savory prosciutto. It’s a delicious way to weave comfort into early spring vegetables!

By:

Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound fresh asparagus, tough ends removed and cut into bite-size pieces
  • 2 small leeks, trimmed (using white part only), cleaned and chopped – about 1-1/2 cups
  • 6 slices prosciutto, about 3 ounces
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 pound orecchiette
  • 5 cups chicken stock
  • 1 teaspoon concentrated chicken stock, such as Better Than Bouillon
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • ¼ cup mascarpone
  • Zest of 1 lemon, about ½ teaspoon
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 cup organic frozen peas, thawed
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan, plus extra for garnish
  • Freshly chopped parsley for garnish
Directions
  • Step 1 Warm the olive in a stockpot over medium heat. Toss in the asparagus, leeks and prosciutto seasoning with ½ teaspoon kosher salt and the pepper. Sauté until the leeks are translucent and the asparagus is bright green and tender crisp, about 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.
  • Step 2 Pour the chicken stock into the same stockpot. Add the pasta along with the concentrated chicken stock and remaining ½ teaspoon salt. Raise the heat just a bit and bring the stock to a boil. Cook until the pasta is tender, stirring frequently, about 15 to 17 minutes. Check the pasta after about 12 minutes as different brands will differ on the cooking time. The pasta will absorb most of the stock as it cooks.
  • Step 3 Reduce the heat to low and add the cream, mascarpone cheese, lemon juice and zest, nutmeg and peas along with the asparagus, leeks and prosciutto, stirring to blend together.
  • Step 4 Mix in the Parmesan cheese and continue cooking on low for about 5 minutes to thicken the sauce slightly.
  • Step 5 Serve with an extra sprinkling of Parmesan cheese and a bit of chopped parsley.


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