Papardelle with Sweet Potato and Spinach 
Let me start by saying that I would eat the Los Angeles Times (Sunday Edition) if you spread enough Ricotta over the top.  Well, maybe all but the sports section.  Anyhow, this was a delicious, easy and colorful dish that I whipped up for company on short notice.  Keep this one (and, of course, your own variations) in your arsenal for good, quick eats.

Total kitchen time: 35 minutes
Makes: Op-Ed taste like Home & Garden for 4 lovely readers

Shopping list:

  • dried pappardelle noodles (really, just get as much as it looks like you’ll need.  Unlike smaller noodles, the cooked yield isn’t deceptively larger than the dried volume.)
  • 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2″ cubes
  • 12 cups baby spinach (to yield about 1 1/2 cups wilted)
  • 1/4 cup ricotta cheese
  • 4 slices proscuitto
  • 4 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Preheat your oven (or toaster oven) to 400°F and place the top rack about three quarters of the way up. 
  2. Boil at least a gallon of lightly salted water in the largest pot you have.  This will take some time to boil, so I’ve put it here in step 2 for you.  I know, what would you do without me?
  3. Toss the sweet potato cubes with 1 tbsp. of olive oil and a pinch of salt.  Spread in an even layer on a baking sheet and roast until tender and just starting to get golden corners, about 20 minutes.  Set aside.
  4. In a large skillet or a griddle over medium heat, lightly fry each piece of proscuitto until crispy.  This will only take a minute or two per side, so keep a close watch.  Since proscuitto typically doesn’t come in packages of 4, you can always pretend that you overcooked a slice and sneak a bite when nobody is looking.  It will be our secret.  Once you’re done with your shameful crisping, set the proscuitto aside on paper towels.
  5. Now, cook the pasta.  This will take 15-20 minutes, so proceed to the next step while you’re waiting.  Hey look, we’re multitasking!
  6. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, wilt the spinach until just done.  Be sure that the amount of spinach is not too great for the size of the pan – you want a lot of room for the moisture to cook off, otherwise you’ll end up with gritty, watery greens.  Bad stuff. 
  7. In a large bowl, toss the pasta with 3 tbsp. of olive oil and salt a pepper to taste.  Add in the ricotta, sweet potatoes and spinach.  If you want, crumble in the fried proscuitto, or just serve it to the side like a ham wafer.  Yum!

That’s it, folks.  An unapologetically simple and easy meal.  If you felt this was too straightforward, serve only a small portion of the pasta aside duck confit with a balsamic reduction, jerk.

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