Summer’s bounty is in full regalia right now so make the best of it with home cooked meals that highlight the plentiful produce. It doesn’t matter if you prefer white, yellow, or sugar and butter corn, as long as it’s recently harvested from the stalk, it will contribute it’s natural sweetness to this Penne with Crisp Prosciutto, Zucchini and Corn dish.
And zucchini—well zucchini is well known to reduce weight, yet still boost the nutrient value of your diet. Even though it is technically a fruit, it is usually cooked as a vegetable because it is best when eaten in cooked dishes. A fully developed zucchini is about three feet long, but they are often much too fibrous and not good for eating. Young zucchini have a subtle taste, soft covering, and buttery white flesh. Almost all the parts of this squash are edible, including the flesh, seeds and even the skin.
Sautéing the prosciutto in a skillet crisps and intensifies its texture and flavor so it becomes like a refined version of bacon. Instead of overpowering the dish, the prosciutto complements the sweetness of the corn, brightness of the mint, and delicate flavor of the zucchini. As a topping, it adds a pleasant crunch to the otherwise soft textures of the pasta and vegetables.
Other than our box of gluten-free pasta at 8.8 ounces, I was definitely heavy handed when measuring the ingredients. After slicing, our onion was more like 2 cups worth and the grated pecorino romano closer to 1 cup. Rounding out the meal was our Arugula Peach Salad; where the sweetness of juicy peaches, another summer staple, pairs well with the peppery greens.
- Kosher salt
- 5 Tbs. olive oil
- 8 thin slices prosciutto (about 4 oz.), cut into strips
- 1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced (1 cup)
- 2 small zucchini (about 3/4 lb.), trimmed, quartered lengthwise, and cut into 1-1/2-inch pieces
- 2 ears corn, shucked and kernels sliced off (about 1 cup), or 1 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino-Romano
- 3 Tbs. chopped fresh mint
- 1 lb. penne
- 2 tsp. sherry vinegar or cider vinegar
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, put 2 Tbs. oil and the prosciutto in a large (12-inch) skillet, place over medium heat, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the prosciutto browns in places and becomes crisp, about 5 minutes. Transfer the prosciutto to a large plate lined with paper towels.
- Add 1 Tbs. oil and the onion to the skillet, sprinkle with 1/2 tsp. salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion softens completely and turns light brown, about 6 minutes; add 1 or 2 Tbs. water to the skillet if the onion starts to stick or burn.
- Add the zucchini and corn, sprinkle with 1/4 tsp. salt, and cook, tossing occasionally, until the zucchini becomes tender, 4 to 5 minutes.
- Remove from the heat and stir in half the Pecorino-Romano and all the mint.
- Add the penne to the pot of boiling water and cook according to the package directions. Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water and then drain the pasta.
- Add the pasta, the remaining 2 Tbs. oil, the vinegar, and 1 tsp. black pepper to the skillet with the zucchini and corn mixture.
- Set the skillet over medium heat and cook, stirring, for 1 minute so the pasta mixes with the vegetables. Add the reserved pasta water and stir.
- Serve sprinkled with the crisp prosciutto and the remaining Pecorino-Romano.
By Tony Rosenfeld from Fine Cooking
Arugula Peach Salad
- 4 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 Tbs. balsamic vinegar, preferably white
- 1/4 tsp. Dijon mustard
- 2 large ripe peaches, pitted and cut into wedges
- 4 oz. baby arugula (about 4 cups)
- 1/2 small red onion, very thinly sliced
- In a medium bowl, whisk together 4 tsp. of the oil, the vinegar, and mustard. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add the peaches and toss gently.
- Add the arugula and onion to the peaches and toss well.