Thursday, June 30, 2011

A Different Kind of Italian

While I love spaghetti as much as the next person, there is another side (many sides, actually) to Italian that don't include tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese. When you think outside of the box, delicious things can happen. This is where the, "don't be afraid to experiment", comes into play. Here is a simple, wonderful recipe for one of those times. Enjoy :)

4 leeks; white parts only; halved and sliced
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 cloves garlic; peeled and smashed
2 fresh thyme sprigs
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 cup white wine
2 cups chicken stock
1 container cherry tomatoes; halved
1 pkg prosciutto
1 box Orechiette pasta
1 cup fresh parmesan cheese; grated ( I like to do this in a food processor - just cut the cheese into chunks first)

1 small handful dried porcini mushrooms
2 cups ciabatta bread; cut into a large dice
1/2 cup skinless almonds; coarsely chopped
Kosher Salt & Pepper

In a large pan, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter over medium heat. Add the leeks, garlic, and sprig of thyme and rosemary. Saute for 3 minutes. Add the wine and season with salt and pepper. Cover the leeks with all of the slices of prosciutto. Put a lid on the pan and lower the heat to a simmer. Cook for 25-30 minutes.

Put the bread, almonds, and dried porcini mushrooms in a food processor, until it has the consistency of coarse breadcrumbs.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Boil pasta for 8-10 minutes until al dente.

Remove the prosciutto from the leeks and slice. Return back to the pan, then add 3/4 cup of the parmesan, and 1 cup of the breadcrumb mixture.

Drain the noodles, SAVING 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid. Add the pasta to the leek mixture. Slowly add the reserved cooking liquid, until you get a creamy texture. Sprinkle the top of the pasta with 1/2 cup of the breadcrumb mixture and the rest of the parmesan cheese.

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