When asparagus is at its peak during early spring, I like to incorporate it into as many dishes as I can. I love its flavor and texture, plus it doesn’t hurt that it’s loaded with health benefits. I look for spears that are bright green and not too thick; the thinner spears, I find, are usually less fibrous. Blanching the asparagus first allows the veggie to keep its beautiful green color, and it stays firm but tender when mixed in with the pasta and sauce. The white wine and crispy prosciutto really packs a punch, making it the perfect first course for your Easter celebration or any springtime fete! As with all of my pasta dishes, I make them gluten free because I’m celiac. However, you can substitute regular pasta for the gluten free and it will taste just as spectacular!
To blanch the asparagus:
Wash the asparagus spears under cold water. Cut them into 2-inch pieces, discarding the tough bottom portion. Add them to a pot of salted, boiling water. Cook for 4 minutes. Drain them in a colander and immediately put them into a bowl of ice water for 1 minute. Remove and drain on paper towels. Set aside until you’re ready to add them to the pasta.
Gluten Free Rigatoni with Crispy Prosciutto & Asparagus
- 3 garlic cloves, smashed
- 1 sprig rosemary
- 1 bunch asparagus (see above for how to blanch)
- 1 pound of gluten free rigatoni (or regular pasta if you're not following a gluten free diet)
- 1 package Citterio diced prosciutto
- Olive oil
- White wine
- Crushed red pepper flakes
- 2 Tbsp. tomato paste
- About 1 cup of marinara sauce (I prefer homemade, but your favorite jarred sauce is fine, too)
- Lots of freshly grated parmesan cheese for serving!
- Step 1 In a saucepan or shallow braising pan, heat about 4 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the smashed garlic cloves and sprig of rosemary.
- Step 2 Saute over low heat until fragrant and golden, about 3-4 minutes. Discard the garlic and rosemary (if a few leaves of rosemary remain, don’t worry! It will add even more flavor to your sauce!).
- Step 3 To the infused oil, add the diced prosciutto. Raise heat to medium. Allow the prosciutto to turn a deep red color. The crispier, the better!
- Step 4 Add the tomato paste and using a wooden spoon, swirl it around until it infuses with the oil and prosciutto.
- Step 5 Add the white wine, a few good splashes. Allow it to reduce slightly, about 2-3 minutes over medium heat.
- Step 6 In the meantime, bring your salted pasta water to a boil in a separate pot. TIP: it’s very important to salt your water before adding the pasta, especially if it’s gluten-free pasta.
- Step 7 Add the marinara sauce to the pan, along with a good pinch of crushed red pepper flakes.
- Step 8 Allow the sauce to simmer while the pasta cooks.
- Step 9 Add a ladle of the pasta water to the sauce to keep it from becoming too thick (you may need a little more water later, so reserve a little bit before draining the pasta).
- Step 10 Throw in the blanched asparagus pieces right at the end so they become incorporated, but not mushy.
- Step 11 Drain the pasta and add it in batches to the simmering sauce. Fold it in as you add it to the pan so it gets coated.
- Step 12 Remove from heat. Before serving, grate a good amount of parmesan cheese over the pasta, giving it another turn in the pot.
- Step 13 Add more cheese to each bowl, if desired. If you like your pasta spicy, feel free to add a pinch of red pepper, too!