Tagliatelle with Lemon Cream, Asparagus, and Prosciutto
Using the prosciutto as a garnish will preserve its pretty pink color and tender, melting texture.
- 12 ounces asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 12 ounces tagliatelle pasta
- 1 lemon
- 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons unsalted butter, divided
- ½ cup chopped leeks, light green and white parts only (about ½ medium leek)
- 4 ounces mascarpone cheese
- 2 to 3 ounces prosciutto, torn into 1-inch pieces
- Kosher or sea salt, to taste
- Ground black pepper, to taste
- 2 to 3 ounces shaved Pecorino Romano
- Fill a large bowl with cold water and ice and set aside. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add asparagus and cook 2 minutes, or until it turns bright green. With a fine-mesh strainer, remove asparagus from the pot. Place asparagus into the ice water to stop the cooking (this also preserves its color). Once cool, remove from ice bath and pat dry.
- Add tagliatelle to pot and cook to al dente according to package directions. Reserve 1 cup pasta water. Drain pasta and run under cool water to stop the cooking.
- Meanwhile, halve lemon. Zest and juice 1 half, reserving separately. Slice remaining half into thin wheels and remove seeds. Dice wheels (reserving juice) and set aside.
- Add 2 tablespoons butter to the pasta pot over medium heat. When it melts and starts to foam, add leeks and cook 2 to 3 minutes, or until soft. Scrape diced lemon half and all of its juice into the pot and continue to cook, stirring, another 4 to 5 minutes. Add mascarpone and stir to combine.
- Return pasta to pot, reduce heat to medium-low, and toss with mascarpone mixture. Add pasta water, a splash at a time, and continue tossing until liquid emulsifies and turns glossy (you might not use it all). Add up to 1 additional teaspoon butter, if needed, to help thicken and emulsify the sauce. Add half the blanched asparagus and toss to combine. Keep warm over low heat.
- Melt remaining teaspoon butter in a small pan over medium heat. Once foamy, add remaining asparagus and toss to coat. Cook for about 1 minute to warm through, then remove from heat.
- Add reserved lemon juice to pasta and toss to combine. Taste and season with salt as needed. Divide pasta among 4 bowls. Top each bowl with equal amounts lemon zest, warmed asparagus, and torn prosciutto. Finish with freshly ground black pepper and shaved Pecorino Romano.
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