Legends of Europe: Roasted Cauliflower and Tomato Pasta with Crispy Prosciutto di Parma and Arugula

Parma Pasta tastefood

Roasted Cauliflower and Grape Tomatoes, Crispy Prosciutto di Parma, Arugula

For the second year in a row, I am involved in creating  a recipe for Legends from Europe with one of their authentic Italian products. This year they asked me to develop a recipe showcasing Prosciutto di Parma, and I was more than happy to oblige as prosciutto is a staple in my kitchen.

Prosciutto di Parma is the world-famous ham cured in the gently rolling countryside near Parma, Italy. Made from specially bred pigs born and raised according to strict guidelines, Parma Ham®  has a full-bodied, nutty and delicately sweet flavor. It’s free of additives and naturally air cured with sea salt. It’s delicious as is, wrapped around melon, draped over pizzas and salads or stuffed in sandwiches. For this recipe I decided to showcase the ham in a different way, using a method that’s become a fast family favorite: oven drying.

Oven drying the prosciutto is a quick technique, requiring a mere 20 minutes or so, during which the ham slices dry out and crisp, intensifying the meat’s flavor and saltiness. The slices are then snapped into shards, which may be served in any number of ways – either as a nibble with an apero, or sprinkled over soups, salads, eggs and vegetables or tossed into pasta as I’ve done in the following recipe.

Roasted Cauliflower and Tomato Pasta with Crispy Prosciutto di Parma and Arugula

Serves 4

1 small head of cauliflower, broken into bite-size florettes (about 3 cups)
8 ounces grape tomatoes
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon crushed red chili flakes
6 ounces sliced Prosciutto di Parma
1 pound orecchiette pasta
2 cups arugula
1 cup finely grated Parmigiano cheese
Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Spread the cauliflower and tomatoes on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil and sprinkle with salt and red chili flakes. Stir to coat. Roast on the lowest oven rack until the cauliflower is tender and brown at edges and the tomatoes begin to collapse, 20 to 25 minutes.

While the cauliflower is roasting, arrange prosciutto slices in one layer on another baking sheet. Place in the same oven on a middle rack and bake until dry and beginning to crisp, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove and cool slightly. When cool enough to handle, break into shards.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain and transfer to a large serving bowl. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil, the cauliflower and tomatoes and toss to combine. Add the arugula and cheese and toss again. Scatter the Prosciutto di Parma over the pasta and garnish with freshly ground black pepper. Serve immediately.