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Prosciutto Wrapped Chicken with Lemon Ricotta & Zucchini Pasta

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We’ve been enjoying some beautifully sunny days here in Waterford (excluding today – I woke up to grey skies and low temperatures) and the past week has made me feel like summer is truly on it way. Even though, in Ireland, summer technically starts in May. I don’t really get it. I guess it has something to do with growing seasons? Explanations are welcomed!

So far, May in Ireland doesn’t feel any different from May in Cape Breton – temperamental weather abounds, where it’s warm and sunny one day and snowing (or hailing) the next. We’ll see how June goes.

I’m getting way off topic here! The point is, we’ve been enjoying sunny and warm weather in Waterford lately and it’s made me crave fresh, summery flavours. Hence, last night’s dinner.

I used to work the pasta station at a busy restaurant in Toronto called O&B Canteen. With the different seasons came our menu changes, and one of my favourite seasonal menu items was the pappardelle with pine nuts, zucchini, lemon, mint and fresh ricotta that we’d get in every morning, still warm, from The Cheese Boutique. We would julienne the zucchini into long strips and quickly bake it in the oven. The zucchini would entangle with the pappardelle and the whole thing tasted so fresh and creamy. Although this was a few years ago, I still crave this flavour combination when the days start to get warm.

I didn’t have time to make fresh pappardelle yesterday (can you believe it?!). I did have some fusilli in the cupboard, so instead of finely slicing the zucchini into strips, I cut them into a medium-small dice to better suit the pasta. I zested a lemon and mixed the zest into the ricotta with a bit of freshly ground pepper, salt and a few drops of habanero hot sauce. I have some gorgeous mint growing in the garden, but I decided not to go with the mint this time, since I was using sage with the chicken (everything in moderation!). I still need to plant a few more herbs – if I had some flat leaf parsley I would have thrown some into the pasta.

The chicken was very simply wrapped in prosciutto with a sage leaf and a smear of garlic mayo. I roasted it at a high temperature to encourage the prosciutto to crisp. Hope you like it!

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Prosciutto Wrapped Chicken with Lemon Ricotta & Zucchini Pasta

Ingredients:

For the chicken:

3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1/2 cup mayonnaise or aioli

1 clove garlic

3-4 large sage leaves

3-4 slices prosciutto, parma ham or serrano ham (whichever you can find)

Salt and Pepper

1 Tbsp olive oil

2-3 sprigs fresh thyme

1/2 pint cherry or grape tomatoes

For the pasta:

500 g dried or fresh pasta (I used fusilli, but any will do)

250 g ricotta cheese

2 tsp hot sauce or chili flakes

Zest of one lemon

Salt and Pepper

Olive Oil

1 medium-sized zucchini

1-2 cloves garlic

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees (200 degrees Celsius, no fan).
  • Prepare the chicken: mince one clove of garlic and mix with the mayonnaise or aioli. Smear 1-2 heaping teaspoons on each breast of chicken.
  • Place one sage leaf on each piece of chicken, ensuring it sticks to the mayo.
  • Carefully wrap each breast of chicken in one slice of prosciutto. Place in a baking dish.
  • Add the tomatoes to the baking dish. Sprinkle a few sprigs of fresh thyme over the top, then season lightly with salt, pepper and olive oil. Set aside.
  • Prepare the zucchini: wash and cut off both ends of the zucchini. Cut the zucchini in half, then half again. Slice each portion into sticks and then cut into a medium-small dice. Place diced zucchini on a lined baking sheet and lightly season with salt, pepper and olive oil. Place in the 400 degree oven for approximately 5-8 minutes, until tender but still brightly coloured.
  • Put a pot of water on to boil and place the chicken in the oven. Set the timer for 20 minutes.
  • Mix the ricotta cheese with the lemon zest and hot sauce, then season with salt and pepper. Finely dice 1-2 cloves of garlic and set aside.
  • Boil your pasta in salted water until al dente. In a large pan, heat some olive oil and then lightly cook the minced garlic. Add the zucchini and ricotta mixture to the pan and heat through.
  • Strain the pasta and add to the pan. Mix thoroughly with the zucchini and ricotta, then check for seasoning. You shouldn’t have to add any extra salt to this dish if you’ve properly salted your pasta water and seasoned the zucchini and ricotta.
  • Remove the chicken from the oven. Plate the pasta and garnish with the roasted cherry tomatoes. Add the chicken to the plate and pour the pan juices over the top.
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