I wish I were a better gardener. Or that our fruit trees were as established on our property as the nine (nine!?!) palm trees still standing. But our fruit trees are in pots, and their yields are small. (And I may forget to water them...a lot.) Still, I'm always excited whenever I get to harvest a lemon, or a pomegranate. Last year I plucked two juicy Black Mission figs. This year there look to be about a dozen smaller ones that the squirrels haven't gotten to yet. I never thought to put figs in my pasta until we started working on this dish, but man am I glad we did, and I think you will be too. Use Black Mission, Brown Turkey, Kadota or Adriatic. Or, if you're really lucky, try a mix!
1/2 pound Semolina Artisanal Pasta (we used Strozzapreti)
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
2 cups fontina cheese, cubed and divided
1 tbsp salt
1/2 tbsp pepper
3 garlic cloves, minced
6-8 medium figs, quartered
1 cup1 medium fennel bulb
4 oz prosciutto, chopped, 1 oz reserved
1 cup fresh bread crumbs, toasted
3 tbsp butter, thinly sliced
Heat oven to 325 degrees.
Cook pasta in a large pot of heavily salted boiling water until just shy of al dente. Drain and set aside.
Thinly slice fennel and sauté in a pan with a drizzle of olive oil until starting to soften.
Meanwhile, in a small pot, add heavy cream and bring to a simmer. Add salt, pepper, garlic and cheese until cheese is melted. Mix in with cooked pasta.
Once pasta is coated, divide in half and layer it into a baking dish. Add layer of cheese, figs, fennel, prosciutto and bread crumbs. Repeat the same procedure for second layer. Top the final later with pieces pats of butter and bake for 10-15 minutes or until cheese melts.
While the pasta is cooking, crisp up the reserved ounce of prosciutto in a hot pan for garnish.
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