Prosciutto, peas, Parmesan, parsley and pasta. What is not to love? (Maybe guilt from all the cream and butter)? Well, at least the peas are healthy: so I add a ton of them! The fresh, sweet peas perfectly compliment the salty prosciutto and rich cream. The more peas, the less guilt in my mind.
I am a fan of the book French Women don’t get Fat and have just started reading the sequel: French Women for all Seasons. The beauty of this rich dish in context of her espoused food philosophy is this: enjoy it. Slowly savor… each creamy, salty, herb flecked, pea popping bite. Let the flavors loll about on your tongue, sip some fruity red, momentarily close your eyes. What I love about this book—and her orientation toward food—is that it encourages you to focus on the pleasure of food. This luxurious and rich dish, Mireille would recommend, should be offset by smarter, less fatty foods in the days surrounding. But in the end, when you are eating this dish: be present with it. Enjoy each bite.
And be a food snob. Not in a nose up way, but in a way that makes you focus on the flavors and bites, not just eating to pass time or until your tummy hurts. Don’t eat and forget that you are eating, don’t eat just to finish your plate: eat for the pleasure of your palate. And when your palate is satisfied (usually before your belly is bursting), then stop. Make every bite earn its place; it must be highly satisfying and delicious or you won’t eat any more. Try it: it is an interesting experience.
And a wonderful excuse to have and enjoy this indulgent, satiating dish. But when you have enjoyed these flavors enough, leave the rest on your plate and use your food snobbery to pick and choose only the bites that are most satisfying each and every meal, each and every day. I sometimes find myself thinking ‘that flavor isn’t worth any more bites’ or ‘I definitely need a few more bites of that.’ Or ‘this dish is so worth each singular, pleasure-filled bite.’
It may sound silly, but for me, slipping into this French philosophy, helps me focus more on flavor profiles, and ultimately the pleasure of food. I don’t deny myself a rich and creamy bacon laced pasta dish—in fact I enjoy each and every bite—but I usually don’t need too many bites because invariably it IS really rich and for me that means my palate is happier sooner.
This is almost a one dish meal, though if I serve it to guests I will certainly start the meal with a selection of olives, bread with dipping sauce and perhaps a light salad. Dessert shouldn’t be too complex or overwhelming: perhaps a fruity sorbet or fruit and cheese to drink with a friendly port. Or better: some simple cookies with coffee. Mostly, though, I make this for a weeknight meal for my family; it is quick and easy to make, and a dish I love to warm up for lunch the next day!
4 T butter
6 oz prosciutto
3 T flour
2 cups heavy cream (though I sometimes cut it in half with milk)
1 cup cooked peas
1 tsp ground pepper
3 T fresh Parmesan
1 T chopped Italian Parsley
1 LB cheese tortellini
Melt butter in pan, sautÃ© prosciutto (low/medium heat) for a minute, add flour and cook, stirring for another 3 minutes. Whisk in cream, stirring a bit, let thicken for 7-10 minutes (aim for low simmer). Add the P’s: peas, pepper, Parmesan and parsley. Lower heat and keep warm. Make pasta, drain, toss and serve. Pass the peas please! I always add extra pepper, parsley and Parmesan on top…