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Best Italian Chef Finalist: Pesto Cavatappi with Ricotta, Peas and Prosciutto

by Michele V. - Vernon Hills, IL | Written on February 17, 2014

You will enjoy a mouthful of delicious flavors in this refreshing dish.

Best Italian Chef Cavatappi
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The curly cavatappi pasta is tossed with fresh basil-mint pesto, paired perfectly with baby sweet peas. Topped with crispy prosciutto, toasted walnuts, parmesan and finally a generous dollop of delicate and dreamy fresh ricotta, you’ll have an exciting experience with every bite.

3 cups packed fresh basil leaves
1 cup packed fresh mint leaves, plus additional for garnish
1 cup chopped toasted walnuts, divided
¾ cup grated or shredded parmesan cheese, plus additional for garnish
¾ cup olive oil, plus more for drizzling
3 ounces prosciutto, thinly sliced
16 oz cavatappi pasta
3 pounds garden peas, shelled (roughly 3 cups) OR 16 oz frozen baby sweet peas
16 oz fresh ricotta
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Prepare pesto: Blend basil, mint, ½ cup toasted walnuts and olive oil in food processor until finely chopped. Add parmesan cheese and blend together until coarse paste forms.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Set aside.
Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Carefully place prosciutto slices on prepared sheet, laying them flat. Bake until fat turns golden and meat is darker, about 10-15 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain. Crumble in to pieces.
Meanwhile, heat a large pot of water to a boil.  Add pasta and cook according to package directions.  Three minutes prior to the end of the cook time, add peas to the boiling pasta. When pasta and peas are tender, but still firm to the bite, remove from heat and drain. Transfer to a large bowl. Add pesto and toss until pasta is coated evenly.
Transfer pasta to serving bowls.  Top with remaining toasted walnuts and sprinkle with crispy prosciutto pieces. Using a small scoop or spoon, place a large dollop of fresh ricotta on top of the pasta in each bowl.  Lightly drizzle each dish with olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with parmesan and mint sprigs.  Serve and enjoy!


  • Maggiano’s Chef’s Table

    [...] try at home: 2nd place – Pollo di Trifone 3rd place – Garlic Shrimp & Shells 4th place – Pesto Cavatappi with Ricotta, Peas & Prosciutto 5th place – Creamy Shrimp Saffron Risotto with Wilted Baby Spinach 6th place – Fettuccine [...]

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