Linguini with Asparagus and Crispy Prosciutto

Cooking the diced prosciutto in a pan renders it crispy and intensifies the savory flavor, thus negating the need to season the pasta with additional salt or lots of cheese. The crisp bite of asparagus and gentle nip of garlic complete the dish, making it into a symphony for springtime.

6 oz. whole-grain linguini
4 thin slices prosciutto, chopped (1 1/2 oz.)*
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 medium leeks, white and light green parts, julienned (1 cup)
1 1/2 cups lower-sodium chicken broth
1 (15-oz.) can cannellini beans, drained, rinsed
1 lb. asparagus, diagonally sliced (1 inch)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup grated Romano cheese

1. Cook linguini according to package directions; drain. Meanwhile, cook prosciutto in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat 5 minutes or until crisp, stirring occasionally. Remove prosciutto.

2. Add oil and crushed red pepper to skillet; heat over medium heat until hot. Add leeks; cook 4 minutes or until soft, stirring occasionally and reducing heat to medium-low if necessary.

3. Add chicken broth and beans; bring to a boil over medium heat. With potato masher, gently crush some of the beans to slightly thicken sauce. Stir in asparagus and garlic. Cover; cook over medium-low heat 6 to 8 minutes or until asparagus is crisp-tender. Stir in pasta. Sprinkle with crisp prosciutto and cheese, and serve.

4 (1 1/2-cup) servings

PER SERVING: 375 calories, 6.5 g total fat (2 g saturated fat), 22 g protein, 62 g carbohydrate, 15 mg cholesterol, 840 mg sodium, 11 g fiber

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