Tag Archives: prosciutto


This past week I discovered a new vendor at the farmers market, a young man with a big basket of fava beans. I bought what I thought was a huge bag, forgetting that fava beans are one of those joys of fresh vegetables that is associated with a lot of effort and a very small return except in flavor. I shelled what looked like a quarter bushel of favas,  blanched the beans, took off the rubbery outer layer, and wound up with a cup of bright green beans. It’s no wonder that many cooks consider them either the equivalent of gold or not worth the effort.

Fava beans are one of the few (only?) Old World beans, and they have been grown for centuries in the Mediterranean basin. It seems a quirk of geography and genetics, then, that some individuals of Mediterranean extraction, most commonly, may harbor a deficiency of an enzyme, glucose-6-phosphate-dehydrogenase (G6PD for short) that makes them susceptible to substances found in fava beans. If an individual is sensitive, he – more common than she – may experience a sudden illness with rapid breakdown of red blood cells, and even kidney failure and death unless it is recognized and rapidly treated. The illness is well-known and has been called favism to show the link with fava beans. Fortunately, the vast majority of individuals can eat fava beans without worry.

I had thought that favas and prosciutto would go well with lightly sautéed bucatini pasta, but alas there was none to be found in any of the local stores. At that point I turned to my copy of Encyclopedia of Pasta, written in Italian by Oretta Zanini de Vita and translated by Maureen B. Fant (University of California Press, Berkeley, 2009). If you haven’t seen that little volume, you should check it out. It describes nearly every pasta shape you can imagine, tells how each pasta is made, and suggests how to use each one.

With all of the sensory overload of that beautiful book, I remained undecided until I remembered some wonderful pasta that I had purchased at our village market. I found it in the pantry, four-foot lengths of pappardelle folded in half and dried for “easy storage”. The manufacturer, Maestri Pastai,  makes all kinds of unusual types and sizes of pasta. That’s great if you have a hard time finding exactly what you are looking for and don’t have the time or skill to make it yourself. Check out their website.

The rest of the ingredients for this dish were easy to find. I had a spare package of prosciutto in the refrigerator, and that seemed like the perfect foil for the favas. The scallions came from the market, the mint from the back yard, and there is always a chunk of Parmesan in the refrigerator.


Pappardelle with Fava Beans and Prosciutto


  • 2 pounds fresh fava beans
  • 5 ounces dried pappardelle
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 scallions cleaned and cut into ½ inch slices, white and green ends
  • 3 ounces prosciutto, thinly sliced and cut or torn into bite-sized pieces
  • 25 fresh mint leaves cut finely into chiffonade
  • 2 ounces fresh Parmesan, grated
  • salt and pepper


  1. Shell the fava beans by breaking off one end and opening the pod along the seam. Collect the beans in a small bowl
  2. Plunge the shelled beans into two quarts of vigorously boiling salted water. Return to the boil for one minute – no more – and then drain the beans and transfer to a large bowl filled with ice water.
  3. When the beans have cooled, remove the outer skin with your fingers, being careful not to mash the beans. Collect the bright green inner beans in a small bowl and set aside.
  4. In a large pot, bring three quarts of salted water to the boil. Add the dried pappardelle and stir occasionally until the pasta is cooked, al dente, about 12 minutes, longer if you live at high altitude. Drain the pasta but do not rinse.Return to the pot along with the butter and olive oil. over medium heat. Add the scallions. Stir occasionally until the butter is completely melted and slightly colored. The pasta should have absorbed the oil and butter and sautéed lightly, but not browned.
  5. Stir in the fava beans and prosciutto until they are warmed through – 2 or 3 minutes. Stir in the mint leaves.  Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. Top with grated Parmesan,  and serve immediately.


Filed under Food, Photography, Recipes


This is my first post from the Shreveport Unscene. The project is a year-long event designed to advance music, the arts, and food in the Shreveport area. Sarah and Evan are doing a two week residency with the goal of  promoting the use of fresh fruits and vegetables in restaurant menus and, along the way, in the family menus of the community. They will be cooking with products from the local farmers market and challenging local chefs to do the same.

Shreveport has a rich food tradition with many Southern and Louisiana specialties. But like much of the South, its food is heavy on deep frying – chicken fried steak, Southern fried chicken, fried catfish and hush puppies, not to mention Natchitoches meat pies, corn dogs, fried pickles, and even deep-fried ice cream. Bucking that tradition will be a challenge.

On our day of arrival, Sarah and Evan went to the farmers market, which is held twice a week. The market is much larger on the weekend, so during the week the choices were limited, but they found fresh pork chops, onions, garlic, new potatoes, sweet yellow peppers, corn from a Mennonite colony in nearby Arkansas, blueberries, raspberries, and fresh cream.

They augmented these products with prosciutto from the gift basket in their room and red onions, cilantro, vegetable oil, and balsamic vinegar from the nearby grocery store. Then they cooked our evening meal from all of this bounty, sort of as a trial run. Sometimes it’s ok to be a guinea pig.


Herbed Pork Chops


  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 4 large pork chops
  • 5 cloves garlic, peeled but whole
  • 1/2 large onion, chopped coarsely
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 red onion, diced finely
  • 1 large bunch cilantro, chopped
  • balsamic  vinegar


  1. In a large sauté pan, heat the oil over high heat, Add the pork chops, garlic, and onions. Brown the pork chops on both sides. Then transfer to an oven-proof dish and place in the oven preheated to 375.  Roast for 20 minutes or until done to your liking. Adjust the seasoning.
  2. In the meantime, combine the red onion, cilantro, and balsamic vinegar in a small bowl. Set aside.
  3. When ready to serve the pork chops, top each with a large tablespoonful of the herb mixture

New Potatoes, Onions, and Sweet Peppers with Pancetta


  • 1 1/2 pounds new potatoes, quartered
  • 1/2 large white onion, chopped coarsely
  • 4 sweet yellow peppers cut crosswise into 2-inch slices
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 of  reserved herb mix (see recipe ab0ve)
  • 3 ounces prosciutto, sliced into thin ribbons


  1. Add the potatoes, onion, and peppers to a large saute pan over medium high heat with the oil.
  2. Stirring frequently, cook the vegetables until they are soft. Remove from the heat. Serve topped with half the herb mixture and the prosciutto.

Mexican-Style Corn with Yogurt and Queso Fresco


  • 6 ears fresh corn, shucked and silk removed
  • 1/2 cup Greek-style yogurt
  • 1 pound Mexican queso fresco, crumbled
  • Old Bay seasoning (note: one of us is very sensitive to spicy food, so that was the choice of seasoning. Ground chiles or chili powder would also be very good.)


  1. Over high heat, dry roast the corn, two or three ears at a time, until they are lightly charred.
  2. Transfer to an oven-proof pan or dish. Spread the roasted corn with yogurt and then sprinkle with queso fresco and seasoning.
  3. Place in the oven preheated to 375 for a few minutes until the cheese is melted and slightly browned. Serve immediately.



Filed under Food, Photography, Recipes, Travel


Our ovens recently went on the blink, and we had to do without baking for over two weeks while the repairman ordered parts. We made it through the crisis – with some withdrawal symptoms – and our ovens were finally restored to working order. To celebrate, I decided to make a couple of quiches using some shrimp and fresh Spring asparagus from the grocery store. I made the quiches only to discover that I had left out the asparagus. My fall-back plan was to use the asparagus the next night in something else. The plan wound up to be an exercise in cleaning out the refrigerator. I came up with what is not really a quiche, so I called it a ricotta pie. Regardless of the name, it turned out to be a good use for the asparagus.


Pie Crust


  • 1 Cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 Cup vegetable shortening
  • 2 2/3 Tablespoons (8 teaspoons) ice water
  1. Combine the flour and salt in a medium bowl
  2. Add the shortening and cut it into the flour mixture with a pastry blender until it resembles coarse corn meal
  3. Make a well in the center of the mixture and pour in the water, mixing with a table fork until the mixture comes together in a ball.
  4. Knead gently for just a few seconds, shape into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes

Pie Filling


  • 16 ounces low-fat ricotta
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 Tablespoon Pernod
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon finely ground white pepper
  • 1 pound fresh asparagus
  • 6 crimini mushrooms
  • 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 ounces Swiss cheese, shredded
  • 3 ounces prosciutto, thinly sliced
  • 2 ounces Parmesan cheese, freshly and finely grated
  1. In a large bowl, combine the ricotta, eggs, Pernod, salt, and pepper until smooth and well blended. Set aside.
  2. Wash the asparagus, trim the woody ends (saving them for stock), and cut into 1-inch pieces. Set aside.
  3. Clean and slice the mushrooms. Sauté them in olive oil until they have given up their liquid. Drain and set aside.

Just out of the oven

Final Assembly

  1. Remove the chilled pie crust dough from the refrigerator and roll it into a circle large enough to line a 9 inch pie pan with enough to crimp the top edge.
  2. Ladle half of the ricotta mixture into the bottom of the prepared pie shell.
  3. Arrange the asparagus pieces over the filling. Then add the mushrooms, Swiss cheese, and prosciutto in layers.
  4. Cover with the remaining ricotta mixture and sprinkle with the grated Parmesan cheese.
  5. Bake in the middle of an oven pre-heated to 425° for 10 minutes. Then lower the oven temperature to 350° for an additional 60 minutes. Turn the baking pie front to back in the oven about half way through the baking. Watch carefully toward the end of baking and remove from the oven if the pie becomes too brown.
  6. Place the finished pie on a cooling rack for 5 minutes. Then slice into 6 or 8 pieces. Serve while still warm.

Ready to eat


Filed under Food, Photography, Recipes