Tagliolini in a Prosciutto and Poppy Seed Cream Sauce
Makes 6 servings
There is no better incarnation of this pasta dish than the one we enjoyed at Osteria Al Portonat in San Daniele, the famed hilltop village - until now. Possibly one of the easiest primi (first courses) to make, this pasta is completely unique, in large part due to the addition of poppy seeds, which give the dish a kind of Friulian carbonara feel.
Like most Italian food, this tagliolini consists of just a few ingredients of the highest quality, prepared simply and with respect for the age-old cooking techniques of the region. If you can find a nice piece of prosciutto di San Daniele, this pasta will make you feel like you’re eating lunch in the lower foothills of the Carnic Alps. It’s guaranteed to become a standard in your pasta repertoire. The trick here is to render the prosciutto quickly but gently; cooking it for too long or too hard ruins the melt-in-your-mouth texture.
Prosciutto di San Daniele DOP makes this dish soar. Do not be tempted to substitute a different prosciutto. Find it at Eataly, Whole Foods, and most reputable delis or cheese shops.
If dried tagliolini (a narrower version of tagliatelle) proves hard to find, substitute De Cecco’s squared spaghetti or Rustichella d’Abruzzo’s chitarra.
Two 1/4-inch-thick slices prosciutto di San Daniele, plus 6 thin slices
1 pound dry tagliolini pasta
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon poppy seeds, plus more for sprinkling
Fine sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Cut the thick prosciutto slices into 1⁄4-inch cubes. Set aside.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente (see package for timing instructions).
While the pasta is cooking, in a sauté pan over medium-low heat, warm the olive oil. Add the cubed prosciutto and sauté it until lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Add the cream and simmer until reduced to a thick sauce, 7 to 10 minutes.
Drain the pasta and then toss in the pan with the cream and prosciutto. Add the poppy seeds and toss again. Check the seasoning, adding salt, if needed.
Transfer the pasta to one platter, family-style (or divide among six plates), sprinkling with a grind or two of black pepper and a few poppy seeds. Drape the thin prosciutto slices over the top of the pasta. Serve immediately.