Recipe: Pasta and Prosciutto in a Creamy Leek Sauce

It’s been pretty rainy and dreary so far this week, and the grey skies and cool temperatures definitely make me crave comfort foods—mac&cheese, pancakes, hot tea—and this rich and creamy pasta dish certainly fits the bill. With sweet and oniony leeks and shallots, fresh garlic, salty prosciutto, and buttery cream, this pasta dish has it all—it’s rich, flavorful, and definitely the perfect comfort food.

Serves: 4
Prep. time: 10-15 minutes
Cooking time: 15-20 minutes
Difficulty: Easy

Ingredients

  • 4 tbsp. (1/2 stick) butter, cut into pieces
  • Olive oil (enough to lightly coat the bottom of a large pan)
  • 4 oz. prosciutto, roughly chopped (about 1-2 inch pieces)
  • 2 leeks, thinly sliced (leeks are notorious for being sandy and dirty, so be sure to soak and clean them thoroughly, and only use the white part for the dish)
  • 2 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1&1/2 to 2 cups heavy cream
  • Milk (preferably 2%), as needed
  • 8 oz. angel hair pasta, or other long pasta (spaghetti, linguine, etc.)
  • 4-6 fresh basil leaves, chiffonade cut
  • Dried thyme, to taste
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Grated Italian cheese, as desired

Directions
Heat the 4 tbsp. butter and olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the pieces of prosciutto and cook until just starting to brown and crisp, then add the leeks and shallots. Once the leeks and shallots have started to soften (about 5 minutes), add the garlic and cook for another minute. Add the chicken stock and slowly stir in the heavy cream, then add salt, pepper, and thyme. Let the sauce bubble and thicken over medium-low heat—add milk if needed to add a little volume to the sauce, and be sure to taste test to make sure the flavor is good. While the sauce is bubbling away, bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the pasta according to package instructions (about 4-5 minutes). Drain the pasta and return it to the pot, then pour the thickened sauce over it, add fresh basil, and toss to combine. Serve topped with Italian cheese.
This sauce is incredibly flavorful—it’s sweet, salty, oniony, buttery—and the heavy cream and splash of milk make it so creamy and rich. Fresh basil helps cut through the richness and a sprinkling of Italian cheese blends perfectly into the dish. Prosciutto is a nice change from chicken or no meat at all, and its salty flavor works well with the other flavors in the sauce. It’s perfect for a cool evening, yet easily made into a warm weather dish with the addition of a garden salad and a glass of white wine.
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