Black Pepper Pasta Salad with Prosciutto, Asparagus, and Romano

The first day of July – you would never know it where I live.  As we hear about the record heat across the country, it didn’t even come close to 70 degrees today.  I guess I should not be complaining, but seriously – is summer ever going to come?  I know I sound like a broken record, but last year, summer never did come.  People are starting to freak out around here that we will never see summer again.  I actually worry more about finding the perfect pasta salad.  Did I just write that?

With the 4th of July right around the corner, everyone is thinking about BBQs.  Since I made this potato salad the other week, I have been hooked – I think I have made it at least 2 times since then, and plan to make it again on the 4th.  So basically, my quest for the best potato salad is done.  Now I am on to pasta salad.  I usually prefer a non-mayonaise pasta salad, but I saw this one in Cooking Light, and had to give it a try.  I love asparagus and prosciutto together, and just thought it would make a wonderful pasta salad.  I have to say, for a mayo-based salad, it was delicious.  There was a lot of flavor in every bite – the prosciutto definitely helped there.  But the combination of tomatoes and asparagus with the pasta and prosciutto was right on.  It made a darn good side dish.  I will not claim victory just yet, but it was close.  I guess this means I will still be on the search, but I have a really good standby until I find the one.


  • 8 ounces uncooked cavatappi pasta or elbow macaroni
  • 3 cups (1 1/2-inch) slices asparagus (about 1 pound)
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 2 ounces prosciutto, chopped
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced shallots
  • 6 tablespoons light mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Dash of salt
  • 1 cup diced tomato
  • 1 1/2 ounces pecorino Romano cheese, grated (about 1/3 cup packed)


Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Add asparagus during the last 2 minutes of cooking. Drain and rinse under cold water; drain.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add olive oil to pan, and swirl to coat. Add prosciutto, and cook for 6 minutes or until crisp, stirring occasionally. Remove prosciutto from pan using a slotted spoon, leaving drippings in pan. Drain prosciutto on paper towels. Add the shallots to drippings in pan; cook over medium heat for 1 minute or until shallots are tender, stirring frequently.

Combine mayonnaise, lemon rind, tarragon, juice, pepper, and salt in a large bowl; stir well. Add pasta, asparagus, three-fourths prosciutto, shallots, tomato, and cheese; toss well to coat. Top servings evenly with remaining prosciutto.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Black Pepper Pasta Salad with Prosciutto, Asparagus, and Romano


7 thoughts on “Black Pepper Pasta Salad with Prosciutto, Asparagus, and Romano

  1. This does sound good. I’m with you, I typically don’t care for pasta salads with mayo, but I’m sure the prosciutto makes a big difference. And I do love Romano! I hope your summer does come soon. I’d gladly send some of our heat your way. ;)

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