By Francine Segan
Fig and prosciutto is a classic Italian pairing making a refreshing appetizer. The combination is also terrific with pasta as a delightfully unusual first course. For a simple, no-cook sauce when fresh figs are in season just toss hot cooked pasta with a little olive oil and sliced figs, then top with shaved aged cheese and San Daniele.
Since there are so few ingredients in this effortless dish, be sure to use only top quality ingredients: the best virgin olive oil, the sweetest figs and finest quality prosciutto. I recommend Prosciutto di San Daniele , which is produced only in the Friuli Venezia Giulia region of Italy, around the hill-town of San Daniele del Friuli, and has an ethereal flavor and melt-in-your-mouth texture.
You can also enjoy this fig-prosciutto-pasta combination even when figs aren’t in season, using dried figs that have been softened in white wine and combined with caramelized onions. See the recipe below.
Dried Fig and San Daniele Penne
Cooking time: 20 minutes
Recipe courtesy: Opera Lover’s Cookbook (Stewart, Tabori & Chang)
Cooking dried figs in white wine makes them soft and sweet as fresh figs.
1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 red onion, diced
1 cup white wine
12 dried Calimyrna figs, about 9 ounces, very thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 pound Monograno Felicetti penne
1/2 cup shaved Grana-Padano cheese
8 ounces prosciutto di San Daniele DOP, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon whole pink peppercorns
Heat the butter and oil in a medium sauté pan over medium heat until the butter melts. Sauté the onion until translucent, about 5 minutes.
Add the wine and figs and simmer until the wine is absorbed and the figs soft, about 8 minutes. Stir in the stock and simmer, covered, for about 7 minutes.
Meantime, cook the penne according to package directions. Drain and toss with the fig sauce.
Serve the penne topped with Grana-Padano, Prosciutto di San Daniele and a sprinkle of peppercorns.
A taste of the past:
The San Daniele Prosciutto Consortium was created in 1961, founded on the innovative ideas of the small group of makers who sought to register and promote this important trademark. The trademark is a guarantee of the quality of a product and protection from counterfeits. Italy’s Act of Law no. 507 passed on July 4, 1970 provided a legislative tool protecting the designation “Prosciutto di San Daniele”.