Penne Al Baffo (Creamy Tomato-Ham Pasta)
“Al Baffo” is said to be the abbreviated version of an Italian expression ‘da leccarsi i baffi,’ which translates to “it is so good you’ll lick your whiskers,” because the sauce is abundant, thick and creamy. Tomato, ham and cream come together in this simple pasta sauce to form a comforting and easy weeknight meal. Cooked ham (as Italians call it, “prosciutto cotto”), is a hearty addition, as it provides texture and necessary salt. This recipe calls for deli ham, but you can substitute prosciutto or even pancetta if the mood strikes. An additional shower of Parmigiano before serving is a must for this decadent and filling meal.
- Serves: 4 persons
- 3tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1shallot, minced
- 2garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 1teaspoon red-pepper flakes
- 8ounces sliced deli ham, cut into little squares
- 1(28-ounce) can tomato passata (purée)
- 1pound penne pasta
- ¾cup heavy cream
- ½cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, plus more for garnish
Step 1Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the olive oil to a large skillet and heat over medium. Add the shallot, garlic and red-pepper flakes. Cook, stirring often, until shallots and garlic soften but are not yet brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the ham and stir to coat, 1 to 2 minutes.
Step 2Add the tomato puree. Add ¼ cup of the boiling salted water from the pot to the can, stir to loosen any purée, then add the liquid to the pan. Season the sauce with salt. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring it to a boil, and then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 minutes.
Step 3While the sauce simmers, cook the pasta in the boiling water according to package instructions until al dente; drain well.
Step 4Reduce the heat to low and then add the cream, cheese and salt; stir to combine. Add the drained pasta; toss to coat. Transfer pasta to a serving dish and top with additional cheese.