I have to admit–ever since the decision came down two weeks ago (as I write this) about Roe v. Wade, my creative output has stalled. I was so thankful that I had already procured all of our groceries the day before for the week because the idea of having to think about what to make in the midst of an existential crisis that has left me in equal parts rage, despair, and devastation. I’ve been donating to local abortion funds (here’s a good way to donate to the national network that will divide your money) and I’m making sure every candidate I vote for in the upcoming primary is a pro-choice candidate who advocates for reproductive rights, but I also have to admit that it sucks that there’s not a whole lot else to do that would provide some cathartic release save for workouts.
After a particularly tough morning last Wednesday when I was on my own for dinner as Michael was in Kansas City, I dragged my butt over to Whole Foods, initially with the intention of making my weekly Wednesday ceviche/lomi/tiradito/tartare, only to get there and not have any fucking desire to eat fish because I wanted some comfort food. Seeing that prosciutto was on sale, I thought of a pasta dish I made a few weeks ago that I really liked, only this time I was using dried pasta because I didn’t feel like making pasta dough for just myself on a Wednesday evening.
Like I said: I was not feeling my normal self.
Thankfully, this did help a lot because it’s very simple to make, especially if you’re using dried pasta, but I would recommend going through the process of making your own like I did when I made it as pictured here. It’s a recipe I adapted from Evan Funke’s American Sfoglino, and he describes it as the dish that they would make at the Bolognese pasta school he studied at when they needed something quick and easy for a meal. The original recipe calls for prosciutto, butter, and Parmigiano-Reggiano, but I mixed it up a bit and swapped Pecorino for the parm and added some basil because Michael had trimmed back our basil leaves and I didn’t want them to go to waste, and it really did make the dish a little brighter with the herbaceous notes from the leaves.
I’m also going to insist on using Irish butter–Kerrygold is an excellent, reasonable option–because when you’re working with so few ingredients, getting good-quality ingredients is essential. This is basically a grown-up version of butter with noodles, and I promise it will comfort you when you need it most.
Fettuccine with prosciutto di Parma, Irish butter, and basil
Inspired by American Sfoglino by Evan Funke and Katie Parla
Serves 4 as a main course, and 6 as an appetizer
- 1 lb 9-yolk egg dough, rested and brought to room temperature
- Semolina flour, for dusting
- 4 TB Irish butter (I prefer Kerrygold)
- 4 oz prosciutto di Parma, thinly sliced and torn into pieces
- Kosher salt
- ½ cup basil leaves, chiffonade
- ¾ cup grated Pecorino Romano, plus more for garnish
Special tools: pasta roller/cutter, bench knife, silicone mats or parchment paper
Roll out the pasta: cut off a piece of the dough ball with the bench knife, flatten it into a disk, and roll it out on the widest setting of your pasta roller. (For an Atlas Mercato 150, this is 0.) Once your pasta is flattened, fold it into thirds and roll the dough again with the folds perpendicular to the rollers. Repeat this two more times. Move the rollers to the next highest number and roll out the dough again (no folding this time), and repeat while increasing the number until the pasta is thin. (For an Atlas Mercato, I go to 6 out of 9.) Transfer the handle to the pasta cutter, and cut the pasta sheets on the fettuccine width, gather with your hand, and place on either a silicone mat or parchment paper. If the dough feels a little sticky or the day is humid, toss the pasta with semolina flour. Repeat with the remaining dough.
Bring a pot of a water to boil.
In the meantime, melt the butter in a large saute pan over medium heat until golden and frothy. Add the prosciutto and let it cook until the pieces are crispy. Set aside the pan with the sauce while you tend to the pasta.
When the water is at a boil, season it with kosher salt, and then add the fresh pasta. Put the butter sauce back on medium heat. Cook the fettuccine for 1-2 minutes until the pasta floats, and then using tongs or a pasta fork, carefully transfer the pasta to the sauce, reserving the cooking water. Toss the pasta in the butter sauce, add a splash of the pasta cooking water, and start incorporating the ¾ cup of Pecorino Romano, ¼ cup at a time to help it turn into an emulsified sauce. Divide the pasta into bowls and top with the fresh basil chiffonade and with any additional cheese, if desired. Serve immediately.