Mezze Penne with Saffron and Prosciutto

Mezze Penne with Saffron and Prosciutto Crudo al Cartoccio (baked in foil)

The strong point of this recipe is that the dish can be prepared beforehand and can be completed in the oven ten minutes before Completoyour guests are all ready to sit. Keep the wrapped parcels at room temperature for an hour maximum then bake them in a preheated oven for 8­‐10 min at 180°C / gas mark 4.
Serve the parcels closed so to keep the fragrant smell of saffron as a pleasant surprise for your guests.
This recipe will give  you a stress-free start of an enjoyable evening of entertainment.
The  trick of this dish is to infuse the saffron and cream enough to bring out the unique character of the saffron so don’t hurry this particular step of this recipe. Patience will pay back.
A crucial step is also, for once, to disregard the recommended cooking time and drain it 2 minutes before as the dressed pasta will need time in the oven. This will ensure that your pasta does not overcook and become stodgy.
If you cannot find a shallot, don’t panic: a white onion will do the job. A shallot tends to be sweeter and slightly more delicate. Generally speaking, sauté the onions (as well as shallots) long enough for them to soften and almost caramelise but not so long to burn them.
If you don’t find or like Gorgonzola Dolce, use the blue cheese of your choice. Best if not too sharp though.

➤ Serves 4   25 minutes  Easy

1 small shallot (40g), finely chopped
150g Parma ham (one slice, ½ cm thick), cut into thin strips
50g Grana Padano, grated
4 tbsp. Extra  Virgin  Olive  Oil
200g double cream
80g Gorgonz
80g Gorgonzola (Dolce)
Black Pepper
Maldon Salt
Some finely chopped parsley
Saffron: use 0.4g, typical quantity in one jar
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Boil a copious amount of  water (at least one litre per 100g of pasta), and when boiling add roughly 2tbsp. of rock salt, add the pasta and stir well. The right al dente time for Mezze Penne is 10 minutes, so to enjoy fully the Garofalo flavour and “bite”, stick to the advised cooking time! For this recipe however, cook the pasta 8 minutes, because it will require some cooking extra cooking time in the oven.
While the pasta is cooking, finely chop the shallot and place in a frying pan, add the Extra Virgin Olive Oil and the ham strips and sauté for 5­‐6 minutes.  8000139004759_T1
In the meantime, place the double cream and the saffron strands and a small pinch of salt in a small saucepan and cook on a slow flame until the saffron strands have released all their colour and flavour.
Add the saffron cream to the sautéed ham and shallot, mix well, add the grated Grana Padano, adjust seasoning and set aside.
Drain the pasta well and cool under running water to stop it cooking.
Prepare four round nests with foil; make sure each one is made of two layers of foil so as to hold the pasta later on and no leakage occurs  in  the  oven.
Add the pasta to the sauce, stir well and place it into  the four foil nests (‘cartoccio’ in Italian). Add 20g of Gorgonzola Dolce in small bits to each nest). Close the foil nests and place them on a baking tray in a preheated oven (180C). Bake for ten minutes and serve at once.