A delicious lemon pasta, with prosciutto and poppy seeds, that’s just a little bit different from the usual.
A quick and easy pasta dish, this Poppy Seed Prosciutto and Lemon Pasta, is just a little different, with the addition of toasted poppy seeds. along with prosciutto. The buttermilk added to the sauce adds great flavour and keeps the calories in check, too.
I’m always drawn to recipes that offer me something new, either in technique or flavours. This pasta recipe intrigued me with the addition of poppy seeds, along with prosciutto and lemon. It turned out to be excellent and I’ll definitely be making this again. It was a quick and easy dinner, too!
If you’re like me, you most often think of the lemon/poppy seed combination in sweet dishes. But I know I love lemon with pasta and prosciutto is always good. I wondered what the poppy seeds would bring to the mix. The result was very subtle and except for the necessity of a good flossing afterwards, was really nice.
The other interesting ingredient in this recipe is buttermilk, which added a slight tang to the sauce. I liked it! As for the heavy cream, I often have people asking if they can substitute. Recipes often call for heavy cream when combined with acidic ingredients like lemon or wine (or both), because it’s high fat content prevents it from “breaking”. You can certainly use a lower fat cream, but do understand that it may break or become a little grainy. I imagine if you’re a buttermilk lover (my husband drinks the stuff by the glass!), you could also just use all buttermilk.
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My Three Top Tips for Delicious Pasta Dishes
My pasta dish cooking technique has evolved over the years, to include a couple of techniques that I think produce the most satisfying pasta dishes …
1. Be sure to generously salt your pasta cooking water, to bring lots of flavour to your finished dish. It’s adequately salted when it “tastes like the ocean”.
2. Rather than draining pasta in the sink, I scoop the cooked pasta right out of the boiling water with a spider strainer (or tongs, for long pasta) and put it directly into the hot sauce. Adding hot pasta to the sauce helps the pasta to absorb the flavours of the sauce more easily. It also allows for having the pasta-cooking water handy, in case you need to add some to thin your pasta sauce. Be sure to still drain the pasta well in the spoon before adding to the pasta, to avoid watering down your sauce.
3. I always cook the pasta with the sauce in a hot skillet (or saucepan) for several minutes before serving. I’ve found that the perfect pasta dish needs to come together in a hot pan first, not in the serving bowl.
Simply add the hot pasta to the hot sauce and cook, stirring, for just a couple of minutes. Take the time to taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning, as needed, as well. If you sauce thickens or tightens up during this last short cooking, add a splash of your pasta cooking water to loosen it up.
To make sure I don’t dirty another pan, I always start my sauce in a large enough skillet or pot so that it will comfortably hold my cooked pasta as well, when it is cooked and ready to be added to the pot.
Bonus Tip! For tomato-heavy sauces, stirring a small pat of butter into the tomato sauce at the end of cooking tempers the acidity in the sauce and rounds out the flavours.
Lemon Pasta with Poppy Seeds and Prosciutto
- 1 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 large shallots thinly sliced or red onion
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1 tbsp poppy seeds
- 1/4 cup white wine
- 1/4 cup buttermilk
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 8 oz tagliatelle or fettuccine or other long pasta
- 1 oz prosciutto thinly sliced (2 slices)
- 1/4 cup Parmesan grated, plus more to garnish
- 2 green onions cut in to 1/2-inch slices
- Juice of 1/2 lemon plus slices to serve
- Heat butter and oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shallots. Season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring, until soft, about 2 minutes. Add the poppy seeds and cook, stirring, until fragrant and shallots begin to brown lightly, about 3 minutes. Add the wine and cook until almost all the liquid evaporates, about 5 minutes. Add buttermilk and cream. Cook, stirring, until reduced slightly, about 3 minutes.
- Meanwhile, bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta, and cook until al dente. Drain pasta, reserving a little of the cooking water, and add pasta to sauce in skillet. Add prosciutto, Parmesan, half the green onions and lemon juice. Toss to combine, adding some of the reserved pasta water if necessary to make a smooth sauce. Season with salt and pepper and transfer to a serving dish. Sprinkle with remaining scallions and more Parmesan.