Prep. time: 10-15 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
- Salt and pepper
- Butter or margarine
- Dried basil
- 8 oz. dried ziti or other tubular pasta (about 1/2 a box of pasta)
- 1 lb. asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces (they're sold in bundles, and I usually use the whole thing)
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 3 oz. (about 1/2 cup) mozzarella cheese, diced (I just buy an 8 oz. Bel Gioioso brand mozzarella ball...and use all of it...what can I say?—I like cheese!)
- 3 oz. thinly sliced prosciutto, cut into small squares
- 3 tbsp. thinly sliced fresh basil
- Italian cheese (to sprinkle on top of the finished product)
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the ziti and cook for 5 minutes, stirring often. Add the asparagus and cook until the pasta is al dente and the asparagus is bright green and crisp, about 5 minutes. Drain the pasta and asparagus, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid (I typically don't reserve any liquid, but if you want a wetter pasta, or more of a sauce, keep it).
In the meantime, while the ziti and asparagus are cooking together, heat the olive oil in a medium skillet over a medium flame. Add the minced garlic and prosciutto and cook the prosciutto until it turns to a darker brown/pink and is slightly crispy. Toss the cooked prosciutto, cubes of mozzarella, and fresh basil with the pasta and add in butter (about 1 tbsp.), olive oil (about 4 tbsp.), dried basil, salt, and pepper, to taste. Sprinkle with the Italian cheese of your choice and serve.
This dish is very filling and reheats wonderfully. The prosciutto gives it a bit of a salty flavor, while the butter and olive oil create a light, almost-creamy sauce (trust me, you don't need cheesy or tomato-packed sauces to make pasta delicious). Be forewarned: The mozzarella will melt quickly and it can make the dish a little tricky to eat (you may even need a butter knife to cut through the melty, stringy cheese), but I personally love getting globs of the cheese in my bites of pasta. All in all, a delicious and easy dish to make, and perfect for lunch the next day.