This is one of my favorite pasta dishes that I make. Hands down. And honestly I had forgotten all about it until I was grocery shopping this past weekend and saw cantaloupes for sale. Then a Grinch-like grin came over me in the produce aisle. I’ve been making it for my family ever since I was pregnant with my first child and we were living in a tiny apartment. I don’t even remember how it came to be, if I’m being honest. I just know it’s damn good. Everyone I feed it to loves it. And each and every one of those people screwed up their face a bit when I told them what they were about to eat. A warm sauce made out of cantaloupe tends to elicit such skepticism. But, I swear to you, This. Is. Everything.
So, think about cantaloupe in the summertime sprinkled with salt. You did that, right? My Nama did that. And I grew up eating chicken salad served inside the scooped out cantaloupe half. That’s some good stuff. Plus, who doesn’t love prosciutto wrapped around a cantaloupe cube? Nobody. My point is that cantaloupe takes on savory flavors very easily. It’s not the sweetest of fruits and absolutely has a lot of savoriness to it. You just have to taste this to believe how this actually comes together. It’s unreal.
The cantaloupe sautés in some brown butter and prosciutto goodness and breaks down to become this delicious, thick sauce. It’s mixed with a little tomato paste, some cream, parm cheese, and lemon, tossed with some fettuccini, and served with the crispy prosciutto on top.
It is addictive. My husband and I do not speak when we eat this. We just eat and occasionally look over at each other with eyes rolled and full-mouthed caveman noises. The kids love it. It’s even good cold.
Make it. It’s so so yummy. And just so damn cool.
PROSCIUTTO MELON PASTA
In a large skillet, on medium-high heat, with a bit of light olive or canola oil, crisp up…
- 1/2 lb. prosciutto, diced (ask your butcher for half a pound of prosciutto cut in a thick steak and just cut it up into tiny squares
Once it’s fully crisped and browned, remove from the pan onto a paper towel lined plate.
To the pan, with all that delicious prosciutto flavor cooked into the bottom, add…
- 2 TB unsalted butter
Allow the butter to melt, then foam and bubble and then once the foam stops and the butter is brown, add in…
- 1 whole cantaloupe that you’ve peeled, seeded and cut into bite sized pieces
Toss the melon in the butter and season well with kosher salt.
Allow the melon to cook, and break down for about 10 minutes or so. Stirring it occasionally. The melon will begin to give off liquid fairly quickly, so there should be no worry of it burning, but keep a good eye on it just in case.
Use a potato masher to break up any stubborn chunks… You want the consistency of this sauce to be that of a chunky tomato sauce, so keep that in mind.
- 1 TB tomato paste
- the juice of 1 lemon (zest it first and reserve the zest for later)
- 1/2 cup half & half or cream
Make sure you have the consistency where you want it to be and the tomato pasta, lemon juice and cream fully and evenly distributed.
Turn off the heat and add…
- 1/4-1/3 cup grated parm (the real stuff)
- reserved lemon zest
Taste to check your seasoning, adding more salt if necessary.
Add to the sauce in the pan…
- 1 lb. fettuccini that you’ve cooked to al dente in heavily salted water (reserve 1 cup of the pasta cooking liquid
Toss well to coat all the noodles in the sauce. Add some pasta water if the sauce is too tight. (Your leftovers may need some of that water before you box it up.)
Serve topped with the crispy prosciutto, freshly cracked black pepper and more cheese if you’d like.
Eat warm now.
And also cold by the light of the fridge tomorrow.