Fusilli with broccoli and prosciutto

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Back in Accra, where it is hot and sunny as usual. Here some handwoven baskets by the roadside, and it is always tempting to pick up another one.

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Need a broom or a rake? These are also available by the roadside. I was walking from Cantonments to Osu, on my way to the Chinese supermarket to buy fresh tofu and bok choi. Anyway, this month I am doing a pantry challenge and a no-shop month. Time to excavate the cupboards and the freezer, and to be a bit creative with what is on hand. I had some prosciutto from Rome, slightly out of date but still perfectly edible, so in it went, as a little luxury.

Fusilli with broccoli and prosciutto

One head of broccoli
1 tbs olive oil
One onion, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic
200 grammes prosciutto
400 grammes of pasta
Handful of grated parmesan

Cut the broccoli into florets and blanch them in salted boiling water until tender, maybe five minutes? Fish the broccoli out and boil the pasta in the same water. At the same time, heat the olive oil in a frying pan and gently fry the onion and garlic. Then add the prosciutto, diced (scissors work well). When the pasta is done, toss it all together and serve with grated parmesan.

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If you have safe water, add a little starchy pasta boiling water to moisten the pasta before adding cheese. There is typhoid and cholera here, and I cooked this with tap water, so better to be safe.

Enjoy with season five of Alias: we have three episodes to go before the very end!

Pizza with smoked paprika and prosciutto

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Years ago I watched Jennifer Garner in “Alias”, and now I am watching it again. We are on season 3 now, with the amnesia, and it is hugely enjoyable, especially as I have forgotten most of what happened. Here’s a pizza thrown together for a recent viewing night, as usual with the slow-rise Bonci-style dough. I set the dough before work and leave it in the fridge, then it is quick to assemble so there is more time for Sydney, evil Francie, and Sark (with that terrible buzzcut). The pizza is very good the next day cold.

Pizza with smoked paprika and prosciutto
500 grammes plain wheat flour (I used 00)
20 grammes olive oil
3.5 grammes dry yeast (I used 8 grammes fresh yeast)
350 grammes water
Later: 10 grammes salt  (fold in after half an hour)

2-3 tbs oil, to oil the baking parchment

Topping:
150 gr tomato paste, thinned out with 5-6 tbs water  (note: tomato paste amount really depends on how concentrated your tomato paste is, this tin of paste was not very strong and I wanted a good tomato flavour, just diluted enough to cover the pizza)
A half teaspoon of smoked paprika
One raw onion, sliced
Enough grated cheese to sprinkle over tomato layer

Optional, to serve: sliced prosciutto

Mix dough ingredients, leave for an hour, then fold in salt. Leave dough to rise ten hours in fridge. Dough will rise and become gloopy and elastic. It needs to be handled carefully, to keep the air bubbles in the dough. No rolling pins here. When you have the dough coaxed out on oiled parchment (or a silicon mat): top with  tomato, onion and grated cheese. Heat the baking tray in oven and carefully slide parchment with pizza over when oven is hot. Then bake at 250C until done (12-15 minutes? Depends on your oven) and enjoy.

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Roast Prosciutto Wrapped Asparagus

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Asparagus and prosciutto, before roasting

Food is so seasonal here in Rome. Initially it was frustrating, planning meals with ingredients that could not be found. But you get used to it, and eventually I learned to cook with the seasons, and even look forward to each new wave of arrivals in the vegetable stalls. Asparagus comes for a month or so, then will be gone from the market until next April. Other times it might appear but might be imported, or expensive, and certainly not as good. So when asparagus is here, those interesting asparagus recipes from the last ten-eleven months need to be excavated and tested, while it is available and affordable. Today the market had glowing piles of red cherries, and the yellow melons are getting cheaper, which means soon the asparagus and strawberries will be gone. The watermelon stand at Circo Massimo has opened for the summer, so summer is just around the corner. And that means not turning the oven on, as it gets so hot here, so we had better enjoy these roast veg while we can!

Roast Prosciutto Wrapped Asparagus

Ingredients:
500g asparagus spears (tough ends trimmed off)
1-2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
fresh cracked black pepper
200g thinly sliced prosciutto

Directions:
Heat the oven to 200C. Cover a baking tray with aluminum foil. Wrap each asparagus spear with a piece of prosciutto. It is easier if you roll them on slightly diagonally. Drizzle on the olive oil, and season with fresh cracked pepper. Bake at 200C for 10-12 minutes or so, until the asparagus is tender and the prosciutto is slightly crispy. Serve warm.