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Signature Dish: Tagliatelle with Prosciutto and Peas

Tom Riggs prepares “Tagliatelli Carolyn,” as he calls it. The fresh pasta with prosciutto and peas is finished with cream.


Tom Riggs prepares “Tagliatelli Carolyn,” as he calls it. The fresh pasta with prosciutto and peas is finished with cream.

Who: Tom Riggs, 67, of Clearwater, retired CEO of Directions for Mental Health

What: Tagliatelle With Prosciutto and Peas

About the Recipe: Cooking is "one of the nicest ways to express love," Riggs says. So it's fitting that on his wife's birthday in 2008, he served her his new recipe for tagliatelle — a meal she still remembers as "fabulous." Ever since Riggs began making his own fresh pasta, he'd been looking for a recipe with "a good combination of cream and peas and prosciutto." He found a recipe from Marcella Hazan's Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking and created his own version, adding ingredients like nutmeg to bring out "the nuttiness of parmigiano-reggiano." It's a light dish, he says, filled with flavor.

Tips: Riggs advises against using boxed pasta. Instead, if you don't have time to make it fresh, buy homemade pasta at Mazzaro's. And be sure to use real parmigiano-reggiano. "With generic Parmesan, you don't get that nuttiness, you don't get the complexity, of real parmigiano-reggiano," he explains.

On the side: The pasta would go well with a Caesar salad or a meat course.

Can't cook without: "I'm still in love with our Le Creuset cast iron enamel cookware that we got as a wedding present. I still use the same Le Creuset pots that I used in 1973."

Why do you love cooking? "I think it's pleasing my family," he says. "Having them appreciate something I came up with is heartwarming to me." Riggs has always had a passion for cooking. Both he and his wife come from families who appreciate good food. His wife's grandparents were from Agropoli — an Italian town he remembers for its delicious buffalo mozzarella and view of Mount Vesuvius across the Tyrrhenian Sea. Visiting Agropoli and cooking with his wife's family has increased Riggs' love for Italian food. With Italian cooking, "it's all about the quality of the ingredients," he says.

What's the best meal you've ever eaten? For their honeymoon, Riggs and his wife planned a "trip to Europe around a meal at a restaurant called La Pyramide, in Vienne, France." He can still recall sitting outside under an oak tree, eating a "pear sorbet that tasted more like a pear than a pear does." They devoured course after course, but the simple dishes are the most memorable for him, like a serving of berries and cream. "We ate for about four hours I think," he says, adding, "We actually had a protein hangover the next day. Our joints hurt."

Emily Young, special to the Times

Signature Dish is published periodically in Taste. If you have a recipe that you would like featured or would like to nominate other home cooks and their dishes, please email the information to [email protected] with a name and daytime phone number. Include SIGNATURE DISH in the subject line. Nominations can be mailed to Taste, Tampa Bay Times, 490 First Ave. S, St. Petersburg, FL 33701.


Tagliatelle With Prosciutto and Peas

¼ pound thin-sliced prosciutto, cut into 1-inch strips

3 tablespoons butter

8 ounces cooked peas

1 cup light cream

Fresh nutmeg

3 to 4 nests (about a pound) of fresh pasta

2.5 ounces (about 1 cup) grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese

Black pepper (to taste)

Fresh parsley (optional, for garnish)

Cut prosciutto into strips about an inch long. Slowly heat butter in a saute pan, adding the prosciutto and heating without frying. Add cooked peas and stir. Add light cream and continue to heat without boiling. Grind a little fresh nutmeg into the sauce. Reduce only slightly.

Meanwhile, cook pasta, with plenty of salt in the water, for two minutes or until al dente, and strain. Toss the pasta with the sauce, adding almost a cup of freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano. Stir until the sauce coats the pasta and does not pool below it, reducing the sauce or adding some of the pasta water as needed. Mound into a serving dish or individual pasta bowls, grind some black pepper on top, add some fresh parsley if desired, and serve with more cheese on the side.

Serves 4-6.

Source: Tom Riggs of Clearwater

Signature Dish: Tagliatelle with Prosciutto and Peas 10/23/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, October 23, 2012 4:30am]
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