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