Last Thursday I was lucky enough to be invited to London to celebrate Italian Republic Day. I’m not Italian but I love Italian food so I was more than delighted to go along. The event was organised by the lovely folk from Dialogue Agency for Parmigiano Reggiano UK. If you read this blog a lot you will notice that I use a lot of parmesan in some of my recipes. I can’t help myself it’s just one of my favourite cheeses to cook with, I love the taste and the versatility of it. We were treated to a delightful meal cooked for us by the very talented and beautiful Eleonora Galasso. The evening started with Prosecco, tasters of 18 and 30 month old Parmigiano Reggiano, the 30 month I thought was a winner. Then we went upstairs in the very lovely Brand Exchange where we had parmesan courgette fritters, aubergine rolls filled with parmesan, ricotta and hazelnuts which were sublime. We also had savoury profiteroles, a new one for me, these were really good, filled with parmesan and chicory cream, I really need to make this chicory cream! My favourite dish however was the pasta dish, spaghetti with lemon, pepper and guanciale, a cured meat made from pork cheeks. You all know I’m a pasta girl right? Well this was the best pasta dish I have had in a long time. I left feeling really inspired. I felt like I needed to up my pasta game. So, inspired by that pasta I have made this linguine with prosciutto, peas and lemon.
This linguine with prosciutto, peas and lemon is for me the essence of a Summer pasta, it’s light but comforting. With sweetness from the peas and the summery combination of basil and lemon this just feels like something I would eat on a warm Summer’s evening with a glass of chilled Pinot Grigio. The parmesan makes it feel creamy even though there is none and the pepper gives it a nice little kick. With an earthy, warming toastiness from the pine nuts and saltiness from the prosciutto, this dish has everything I want in a Summer pasta.
As far as I’m concerned toasting makes everything better, whether it’s bread, pine nuts or seeds, it adds a comforting warmness to food. Toasting black peppercorns is new for me, Eleonora shared a couple of tips with us that evening and toasting peppercorns was one of them. Adding toasting peppercorns adds a subtle heat to the pasta, it’s compliments the creamy saltiness of the parmesan perfectly. It’s not for everyone though, and kids in particular may not be keen so you could add them at the end after you have served the kids.
If you are vegetarian make sure you use a vegetarian Italian cheese, you could also swap the prosciutto for sliced black olives if you want to keep it meat-free. You could use any long pasta with this recipe but I think linguine suits it best. This linguine with prosciutto, peas and lemon is one of those dishes that will go down as a family favourite I think. It really is a lovely family meal, kids and adults alike will love it. We really loved it, I hope you do too.
I learnt so much from Eleonora about parmesan cheese in the space of a short time, like how to store it, yes wrap it in paper. Shave it, grate it, crumble it but don’t cut it. Also, it’s good to know that I’m not the only one that likes to eat little chunks of parmesan when I feel peckish. There is something deliciously satisfying about that umami flavour that satisfies my cravings.
*This Linguine with Prosciutto, Peas and Lemon was inspired by Elenora Galasso’s Spaghetti with Lemon, Pepper & Guanciale
Linguine with Prosciutto, Peas and Lemon
- 400 g / 4 cups of linguine (dry weight)
- 150 g / 1 cup petit pois , frozen
- 85 g (about 7 slices) Prosciutto di Parma
- 30 g / 1/4 of a cup of pine nuts , toasted
- 100 g / 1 cup of parmigiano reggiano , finely grated
- 1/2 tbs black peppercorns
- 6 spring onions (scallions), finely sliced
- A small handful of basil , shredded
- The finely grated zest of 1 lemon
- 1 tbs olive oil
- 1 tsp sea salt
- A drizzle of extra virgin olive oil , cracked black pepper, basil leaves and shaved parmesan to serve.
Cook the linguine in a large saucepan of salted water, until tender, or follow the packet instructions. When the pasta is nearly done reserve a cup of the cooking water before you drain the pasta.
Place the peas in a small bowl and cover with room temperature water, this will thaw the peas slightly.
Heat the oil in a large sauté pan, add the peppercorns and cook for about two minutes. Remove from the pan, drain and set aside.
Add the spring onions to the oil and cook gently for about 2 minutes.
When the pasta is cooked and drained add it the sauté pan, then add the parmesan and the reserved cooking water. Add the peas, prosciutto, basil, pine nuts, pepper, lemon zest and toss gently. Cook and stir gently for a couple of minutes until the cheese has melted.
Serve immediately with shavings of parmesan, a couple of basil leaves, some cracked black pepper. Finish with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil if you wish.
*Cup measurements are approximate, I use a metric scale to measure all ingredients.
** I was treated to a lovely evening by Dialogue Agency and Parmesan UK they are not aware I was going to write about the event, all views are my own and do not affect my ability to eat cheese or make pasta. Many thanks to Georgie at Dialogue for the invite and Eleonora Galasso for the gorgeous food and inspiration.