Cheese curds are tricky little guys. While they might be all squeaky and salty when fresh, they can easily turn to rubber if too cold, or melt into goo when warmed. What to do? The trick I used here was to toss them in a warm pasta salad, so that the heat from the boiled noodles heats them just to the point where they become pliable and flavorful. Since not all people are blessed with a good source of fresh cheese curds, you can sub in fresh mozzarella if you'd like. Still, there's something about the chewy texture of the curds that can't be beat.
Of course, one can't live on cheese curds alone. To help lighten things up, I added in a bunch of asparagus. Not wanting to deal with another pot on the stove, I tossed the spring vegetable in the pasta pot with a couple minutes left on the timer. The stalks came tender, but still with a bit of snap to them. A basic olive oil and lemon dressing accented with fresh mint tied everything together.
Oh, and at the last minute, I decided this needed to be a bit more substantial, so I added in some prosciutto. Fortunately, the slices are best when added on top at the very end.
- Yield:Serves 4
- Active time: 10 minutes
- Total time:20 minutes
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon juice and 1 teaspoon zest from 1 lemon
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/3 pound fresh cheese curds (or mozzarella), broken into 1/2-inch pieces
- Handful fresh mint, chopped
- 1/2 pound fusilli (or other small shaped pasta)
- 1 pound asparagus, tough ends trimmed, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1/4 pound thinly sliced prosciutto
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil over high heat. Meanwhile, whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, and lemon zest in a large bowl. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Stir in the cheese curds and mint. Set aside.
Cook fusilli in boiling water to al dente according to directions on the packaging. With two minutes remaining, add asparagus pieces. Drain pasta and asparagus in a colander and immediately toss with the dressing. Season with more salt and pepper to taste.
Serve the pasta salad with prosciutto slices added on top.