Victor Protasio
Hands-On Time
25 Mins
Total Time
25 Mins
4 servings

The secret ingredient to an amazing, restaurant-worthy pasta recipe like this one is shockingly simple. It’s just water! Pasta water, that is. Using just ½ cup of the leftover penne cooking liquid adds starchy body to the pan sauce, which helps the flavors to emulsify into a rich coating that’s full of flavor and body. The liquid pulls the salty pan drippings from the prosciutto and the garlicky oil and slicks it onto each tube of pasta. That’s why penne is great for a dish like this one—the ridges encourage sauce to stick and the tube traps delicious pockets of sauce. And by the way, this simple pasta water technique is the kind of back-pocket trick that you can pull out with any pasta dish.

How to Make It

Step 1

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain, reserving ½ cup pasta water.

Step 2

Heat olive oil and prosciutto in a large skillet over medium. Cook, stirring, until prosciutto is crisp, about 4 minutes; transfer to a plate using tongs. Add garlic to skillet and cook 30 seconds. Add spinach, salt, pepper, and lemon zest and cook, tossing, until spinach is wilted, 2 minutes.

Step 3

Add pasta, reserved pasta water, and half the cheese to skillet. Cook, tossing, until sauce thickens and coats the pasta, about 1 minute. Top with prosciutto and remaining cheese.

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