Orange-Mascarpone Pasta

Orange-Mascarpone Pasta with figs and crispy pancetta

My husband and I went out to dinner before Christmas at an Italian restaurant. The menu had quite a few good options. One dish that caught my eye was a pasta that had mascarpone cheese, figs, orange, prosciutto and the deal breaker – goat cheese. That is one cheese that I just can not eat, as soon as I see it in a dish on a menu the dish is instantly out of the running. We ended up getting their special for the night, it was a perfect choice our pizza was delicious. I would happily return for the pizza and our calamari starter again.

Orange - mascarpone Pasta ~ crispy pancetta

Look at the pancetta getting all crispy.

I thought about that pasta for quite some time afterwards. I wanted to add a vegetable and fennel was a natural choice for the other main flavors: orange and fig. I made this dish more than one way but this is the way that was not only the easiest but the best tasting. I really thought that the dish with roasted fennel would be the winner but I was incorrect. Even though this is a fancy pants pasta I wanted it to be fast so I turned to my pressure cooker. My pressure cooker is not only fast but it is SO easy to clean. Making this pasta is a doable meal during the week! Pull out a bottle of wine and your significant other will mistake it for the weekend. Pair with a salad and garlic bread and it will be better than going out. I know that I fed my entire family for less than that one entree at the restaurant.

Orange-Mascarpone Pasta with Figs and Crispy Pancetta

See the note below for pasta cook time.

Orange Mascarpone Pasta with Figs and Crispy Pancetta
Serves  4

1/4 lb Sliced Pancetta*
1/2 Fennel bulb, cored and diced (1 1/2 cups)
1/2 Onion, Diced
2 Garlic Cloves, Minced
2 Cups Pasta, I used Casarecce**
2 Cups Water
1/2 Cup Mascarpone Cheese
1 Egg Yolk
1 Orange, Zest and Juice
4 Dried Black Misson Figs, diced
1/4 Cup Freshly shredded Parmesan, extra for garnish
Salt and Pepper to taste

For Garnish:
Fennel Fronds
Parmesan Cheese

1. Press the Saute button and allow the pot to get hot. Once you have a hot pan add the sliced pancetta, allow to cook flipping the pancetta as it cooks. It will take several minutes to become crispy. Remove your crispy pancetta to a paper towel, and remove all but 1 Tablespoon of rendered fat. Add the fennel and onion to the pressure cooker with a pinch of salt. Saute stirring until the vegetables have softened, several minutes. Stir in the garlic and allow to become fragrant, 30 seconds. Hit cancel to end the saute function.

2. Add pasta and water to the pressure cooker. Give it a stir and place lid on the pressure cooker. Set valve to ‘sealing’. Set to cook at high pressure 5** minutes. When time has finished press cancel and immediately release pressure. If water comes out – set back to sealing and try again in 20 seconds. Once the pressure has released, open tilting the lid away from you.

3. In a small bowl stir together mascarpone cheese, orange zest, juice of half of the orange, and egg yolk. (Do this while the pasta cooks.)

4. Add the mascarpone mixture to the pasta and stir until combined. Add parmesan and salt and pepper to taste, stir in dried figs. Allow to rest for a minute or two for the sauce to thicken. Garnish with crispy pancetta, parmesan, and fennel fronds.

*To make this dish vegetarian omit the pancetta and cook the vegetables in Olive Oil
**The pasta I used called for a cook time of 11 minutes for al dente pasta. Check your pasta, cut the time in half and reduce that by one minute.

Kitchen Musings Today Original recipe

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