Penne w/ Prosciutto, Walnuts & Fried Sage Leaves
Years ago, my mother in law and I took a cooking class given by David Ruggierro, who was a NYC restaurateur and chef and a good old wise guy from Brooklyn. He was a lot of fun and showed us how to make some delicious Italian foods from his neighborhood in Brooklyn and his grandmother's neighborhood in Sicily!
He demonstrated this dish in the class, and I have never forgotten it.
This dish comes from Piedmont, a region in Northern Italy, but tonight, will be made by a girl who lives in Northern New Jersey.
My photos don't do this dish justice. It is very simple, yet very special.
It is one of my favorite pasta dishes and the combination of walnuts, prosciutto and fried sage is just beautiful. I have cut down the cheese and butter from the original recipe so my jeans will fit and have written the recipe my way.
We serve it with a nice Super Tuscan, however, I think it would go with a nice minerally (?) Pinot Grigio too.
Make sure you have all your ingredients ready, because like any good pasta mixed with a skillet sauce, you have to work fast.
Penne alla San Giovanni (adapted from David Ruggierro's Little Italy Cookbook)
8 oz. of prosciutto, diced
5 garlic cloves, smashed
1/4 cup good olive oil
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped roughly
salt & pepper
1/2 cup Pecorino Romano cheese
1 lb. penne pasta
1/2 stick of butter
25 sage leaves
Cook your pasta as per directions on the box.
In a heavy skillet heat your olive oil and cook your garlic, prosciutto and walnuts on medium heat until the prosciutto starts to brown (watch that your garlic doesn't burn). Once this is done, take your pan off the heat/burner.
Add your cooked, drained penne pasta to the skillet and mix with the prosciutto mixture. Add 1/2 cup of parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese and toss together.
Sprinkle with a bit of salt and cracked black pepper.
In a separate frying pan, cook 1/2 stick of butter and the 25 sage leaves on medium heat for about 2 minutes till the sage leaves are crisping up.
Pour this gorgeous sage butter on top of the pasta and serve.
As Marie would say: Buon Appetito!