Prosciutto & Cherry Tomatoes with Linguine
I love a sauce that can be rustled up in the time it takes to cook the pasta. In this recipe the key is good quality prosciutto and sweet, flavourful cherry tomatoes. As the sauce develops, the flavour of the prosciutto perfumes the unsalted butter and this in turn flavours the tomatoes. The nuttiness of the parmesan adds the final flourish. If you are merely familiar with supermarket packets of prosciutto, you are in for a glorious surprise when you ask for it to be freshly sliced. The difference in taste and texture is remarkable. Ask for it to be cut only slightly thicker than paper-thin and, if possible, to be layered between wax or cheese paper rather than clingfilm. You will thank yourself with every mouthful.
SERVES 4 150g prosciutto slices, sliced slightly thicker than paper thin (about 8-10 slices) 80g unsalted butter 2 shallots, diced finely 2 red chillies, deseeded and finely chopped 400g cherry tomatoes, halved Pinch of dried chilli flakes, optional 400g linguine 15 basil leaves Parmesan, freshly grated
1. Bring a large pot of water to the boil. For 4 litres of water, add about 1½ level tablespoons of salt. Slice the prosciutto crosswise into strips about 1cm in width or less. Cut each slice separately rather than stacking them together. Allow the strips to dry out on the board.
2. Heat two thirds of the butter in a medium-sized frying pan. Add the shallots and chillies and cook for about 30 seconds. Add the strips of prosciutto, cook gently for about 20 seconds and then add the cherry tomatoes to the pan. Add in a pinch of dried chilli flakes if you wish. Simmer gently to allow the tomatoes to soften.
3. Meanwhile, put the pasta in the boiling water and cook until al dente. Drain, reserving some of the pasta water and return the pasta to the pot along with the remaining butter. Pour over the prosciutto and tomato mixture and toss together, adding a good splash of pasta water. The water and butter will form an emulsion which will in turn coat the pasta. Chop the basil and mix in along with a fistful or two of Parmesan. The pasta should not look dry and may need another dash of pasta water. Serve sprinkled with extra cheese.
Roz Purcell’s CASHEW, BEAN & OAT BURGERS