Zipping through the neighborhood with minutes to spare before friends arrived for an impromptu dinner Friday night, I had only a loose inspiration for a pasta with Cacio e Pepe (cheese and pepper), an old Roman recipe that depends on having fresh, good-quality Pecorino Romano, pasta and peppercorns. That seemed like a good place to start.
From there, I imagined egg yolks, prosciutto and some kind of green element. The idea was to make something fresh and seasonal, but adaptable no matter the season. This time I used chopped Belgian Endive, but in the summer you could substitute basil, baby chard leaves, or just about anything light and green from the soil. For winter, try chicories, chard while you can still get it, kale (cook it down first), or whatever else you can find that is in season.
The pasta shape we used was Strozzapretti, which means "Choked Priest" (grim, indeed) and it holds onto the yolky sauce nicely. Rustichella d'Abruzzo, a brand of pasta found in many gourmet shops and online, makes a nice Strozzapretti. Of course, you may substitute other pasta shapes in this recipe. Try something small that will hold the sauce and nestle with the sheds of prosciutto, like penne or orechhiette. If you are concerned about Salmonella, use pasteurized eggs (I got mine, along with my Pecorino and Prosciutto, at Murray's and they come from a small upstate farm). But know that the yolks will cook a bit when you add the hot pasta and broth.
Strozzapretti with Pecorino, Prociutto and Something Green serves 4
1 lb Strozzapretti pasta 1 cup chicken stock 6 egg yolks 1 cups freshly grated pecorino romano cheese, plus 1/2 cup chopped 2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper 1 tablespoon good quality, flaky salt 3 heads Belgian endive, chopped cross-wise to within 1 inch of stem, or total 2 cups chopped green (herbs, cooked kale, chard, etc.) 1/4 lb prosciutto, torn into bite-sized pieces.
Set a large pot of water to boil. In a small saucepan, bring the chicken stock to a simmer over low flame.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine egg yolks, Pecorino, pepper, and salt. Whisk gently. Add endive.
When the pot of water reaches a boil, add a good shake of salt and cook pasta to al dente. Drain it quickly and toss into the bowl with the egg mixture, allowing some of the pasta water to mix in. Pour the simmered stock over the pasta and toss everything together gently.
Divide between four warm pasta bowls and lay a nice handful of prosciutto across each portion. Serve immediately.