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First courses

Penne alla Fiesolana recipe

Amy Gulick by Amy Gulick

According to Leo Codacci’s 1981 book Civiltà della Tavola Contadina, penne alla fiesolana was a popular dish among peasants in the late nineteenth century, typically served during the holidays in farmhouse kitchens around Fiesole. The sauce is made from a simple béchamel, a ‘trick’ of the cucina povera whereby common pantry staples are combined with smaller amounts of savory ingredients—in this case, salty prosciutto crudo. 

  • 350 grams penne pasta
  • 1 Tbls butter
  • 1 Tbls flour
  • 250 mls whole milk
  • 3 Tbls grated parmesan cheese 
  • salt & pepper
  • 100 gr prosciutto
  • cubed or sliced into strips
  • 3 Tbls olive oil
  • 1 large handful fresh parsley roughly chopped



Boil the pasta in salted water until al dente. Meanwhile, prepare the sauce by combining the butter and flour in a medium saucepan over low heat until a creamy paste forms

Add the milk and stir continuously to dissolve the paste. Now add the cheese, salt and pepper and continue stirring over medium-low heat until you have a béchamel on the liquidy side

Remove from the heat but cover to keep the sauce warm. In a separate pan, cook the prosciutto in olive oil until the fats dissolve and the meat is just starting to turn crisp.

Add the béchamel to this pan and combine. Transfer the cooked penne to the sauce pan and toss well. Serve with a generous portion of the fresh parsley and (optional) a dusting of ground black pepper. 

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