A rich and creamy pasta from Food Network chef Michael Smith.
16 oz. dried penne pasta
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 cup of small diced prosciutto
8 dried morels*
1/2 cup minced onion
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
10 oz. (1 package) spinach leaves, cleaned
1/2 cup cream
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup minced cured black olives such as Kalamata
1 tbsp of thinly sliced sage leaves
A block of Parmesan for shaving
* Soaked in warm water for 10 minutes and then drained.
Step 1: In a large shallow pan sauté the prosciutto until it is crisp and toasted. Then strain out the prosciutto, drain and reserve.
Step 2: Continue in the same pan, using the same olive oil. Add the morels and sauté until soft. Set aside with the prosciutto.
Step 3: Continue in the same pan. Add the onions and garlic and sauté in the olive oil until fully aromatized. Add the spinach and cream and continue cooking as the spinach wilts. When every leaf has wilted and deepened in colour pour the contents of the pan into a high-speed blender.
Step 4: Add the cheese and purée the sauce until it is very smooth. Taste and season the sauce. Reserve it briefly in a small sauce pot.
Step 5: Bring a large volume of water to a gentle rolling boil. Season it heavily with coarse sea salt. Taste it, it should be pleasantly salty, perfectly seasoned with a pleasing brine taste.
Step 6: Add the penne and cook until the pasta is just done and still has a pleasing chewiness or slight resistance when tasted. It should be neither overdone and mushy nor crisp and underdone. This will take about ten minutes. Strain the pasta when done.
Step 7: Meanwhile reheat the sauce. When the pasta is done, toss it in with the sauce and place in a heated wide shallow pasta plate. Toss the prosciutto with morels, black olives and sage.
Step 8: Top the pasta with the prosciutto mixture. Using a vegetable peeler, shred some cheese onto the pasta. Garnish with a sage sprig and serve immediately.