FETTUCCINE ALLA PAPALINA (“the Pope’s pasta,” with basil, cream, Parmesan and proscuitto, for four)
This “pasta was made at La Cisterna Trattoria (in Rome) for Cardinal Pacelli because it was his favorite pasta dish. When he became Pope Puis XII in 1939, the restaurateurs dedicated it to him.” Diane Seed, The Food Lover’s Guide to the Gourmet Secrets of Rome
½ cup butter
1 small onion, chopped
7 ounces proscuitto, cut into ribbons
1 pound fresh fettuccine or tagliatelle or good quality dried egg fettuccine or tagliatelle
1 cup light (single) cream
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan
salt and freshly ground black pepper
small handful of fresh basil leaves to garnish
Parmesan shavings to garnish
1. Put a large saucepan of water on to boil for the pasta.
2. Meanwhile, melt half the butter and gently cook the onion until it becomes transparent. Add the proscuitto and allow to warm through.
3. When the water comes to the boil add a little salt and cook the pasta according to the package instructions (about 12 minutes from when the water returns to a boil) until it is al dente.
4. While the pasta is cooking beat the eggs and cream with half of the grated Parmesan. Melt the remaining butter in a large pan and stir in the egg mixture. Remove from the heat immediately and season to taste with salt.
5. Drain the pasta and stir into the egg mixture. Now stir in the ham and onions and keep stirring until the eggs coagulate to form a thick yellow cream. Add black pepper, some basil leaves, and Parmesan shavings and serve at once. Put the remaining grated Parmesan in a bowl and serve alongside the pasta.
adapted from Diane Seed, The Food Lover’s Guide to the Gourmet Secrets of Rome