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Playing Rachael's Pasta with Smoked Ham, Saffron and Cherry Tomato Sauce


  • ½ cup chicken stock
  • Pinch saffron threads
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • Salt and pepper
  • 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • ⅓ pound chunk of speck (smoked prosciutto), or other smoky ham, thinly sliced by hand, then stack slices up and chop (¼ x ½ inch)
  • ½ cup white wine
  • 2 pints cherry tomatoes, halved
  • Handful basil, torn or thinly sliced
  • 1 pound gnocchetti, or gnocchetti with saffron or small shell or small shell or orecchiette pasta
  • Pecorino or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese


Serves: 4


In a small pan or pot, warm stock and saffron, then remove from heat and let stand.

Heat a large pot of water to boil for the pasta.

In a deep skillet or saucepot over medium-high heat, warm EVOO, 3 turns of the pan, add onion, season with salt and pepper, and cook to soften 10 to 12 minutes. Add garlic and ham and cook 2 to 3 minutes more. Add wine, saffron stock and tomatoes, then cover the pan and cook 20 minutes to soften tomatoes. Wilt in basil.  

Salt the pasta water and cook pasta 1 to 2 minutes less than directions. Add about ½ mug of starchy pasta water to sauce, then drain pasta and toss with sauce and some grated cheese. Adjust seasoning and serve in shallow bowls.