Posted by: Catherine | March 16, 2009

Orecciette Salad with Asparagus, Prosciutto and Ricotta Salata (RR*, The First Unconfidential Cooks’ Dinner)


* Reader Recipe

Susan and I go way back to single working-girl days at New York magazines (we wrote service stories, side by side, at Glamour way back when), and The First Unconfidential Cooks’ Dinner could not have happened without her. It was Susan who first urged me to do a blog, and it was she who was the first to be totally supportive of my earliest efforts. Who did Susan bring to The First U-Cs’ Dinner? Another Glamour alum, who brought a fantastic Carrot Cake (stay tuned) and  just moved to LA from New York. It was a mini reunion!

Susan came with this “addictive” pasta dish, which she’s been making since she found it in The New York Times several years ago. It’s just one of those combinations that is meant to be—the asparagus, proscuitto and ricotta salata…the flavors intensified by lemon and lemon zest in the “salad dressing.” It’s comfort food, pure and simple, but snazzy enough to serve guests.

(4 to 6 servings)

8 oz. orecchiette


1 3/4 lbs. asparagus

1 1/2 t. canola oil

4 oz. proscuitto, very thinly sliced

1/4 t. fresh garlic, mashed to a paste (about one small clove)

2 T white wine vinegar

2 T lemon juice

2 t. Dijon mustard 

3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

6 oz. ricotta salata, thinly sliced and crumbled

1 T lemon zest (about one lemon)

Kosher salt to taste

Freshly ground black pepper to taste


Cook pasta in salted boiling water until tender, 12 to 14 minutes. Drain and reserve. Trim asparagus and cook in salted boiling water until just tender, 3 to 4 minutes, and transfer to an ice bath to cool. Drain and reserve.

Heat oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat until smoking hot. Cook proscuitto slices flat in pan, in batches, until each slice is firm and brown around its ridges but not yet crisp, about 30 seconds a side. Tranfer to a plate lined with paper towels to drain.

In a small bowl, whisk garlic with vinegar, lemon juice and mustard; add olive oil in a thin stream, whisking, until dressing emulsifies.

In a large serving bowl, toss dressing with pasta. Cut asparagus crosswise into one-inch lengths, and add to bowl, along with ricotta salata. With kitchen scissors, cut prosciutto into 1/4-inch-wide strips into bowl. Sprinkle lemon zest over top of salad and toss thoroughly to  combine. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.



  1. I really like ricotta salata. My mouth is watering just thinking about this combination of flavors. We will definitely give this a try when the weather warms up!

  2. This can be adapted for vegetarians. I tried this with out the prosciutto and it was yummy.

  3. I love orecciette, they’re so cute. And I’ve never had ricotta salata, so I must try this one soon. It’s perfect for spring.

  4. That pasta look so green and fresh and good!

  5. Oh wow…I’m totally trying this at home. I’m such a sucker for prosciutto.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: