Prosciutto Ragu with Dischi Volanti.

Prosciutto Ragu with Dischi Volanti Recipe from Emilia-Romagna.

This prosciutto ragu with dischi volanti recipe is a fabulous alternative to Bolognese. It’s faster and easier to make but just as flavourful! Once you try it, I’m sure you’ll be adding it to your list of favourite pasta recipes!

prosciutto ragu with dischi volanti

Ragu’ di prosciutto crudo.

Prosciutto ragu is popular throughout Italy, especially in the areas where they produce prosciutto crudo (dry-cured ham). In fact, there are lots of well-known types of this ham made throughout the country, even though outside of Italy the most famous are prosciutto di Parma (Parma ham) or prosciutto di San Daniele.

Prosciutto Ragu with Dischi Volanti

Using prosciutto crudo in cooking.

As many of you probably know, Italian prosciutto crudo is usually eaten cut in very thin slices. Italians eat it as an antipasto along with other salumi, in sandwiches or as a starter with fruit, usually melon or figs. They also add the slices to pizza (normally after it comes out of the oven) and serve it as ‘involtini’ (stuffed and rolled). These involtini can be raw or cooked.

ingredients for prosciutto ragu on white plate

Probably the most popular way to use cooked prosciutto crudo is with pasta. Some recipes call for just adding slices of prosciutto to the finished dish, others include a sauce made with small cubes or juliennes of prosciutto crudo. There are also recipes that have cooked pieces and raw slices like my recipe for tagliolini with San Daniele (see link below)

cutting prosciutto crudo ham end into thick slices

This prosciutto ragu.

In this prosciutto ragu with dischi volanti recipe, the ragu is made with pieces of prosciutto. I don’t know about in other countries, but here in Italy we can buy already diced prosciutto crudo. However, Italian supermarkets and delicatessens also sell the end of the ham, called the ‘fondo’ or ‘gambuccio’ in Italian. This costs less than buying prosciutto in slices and is great for soups and pasta. However, if you can’t find a ham end or ready cut cubes, try to get thicker than normal slices.

cutting the thick ham slices into small pieces

How is prosciutto crudo made?

Italian prosciutto crudo is made with the hind leg or thigh of a pig or wild boar.  Italians have been making dry-cured ham since the times of Ancient Rome! Although each type has its own particular flavor and aroma, the overall process to produce prosciutto crudo is basically the same.

First they trim off the skin and fat. Then the ham is salted and left for about 2 months. Then it’s washed to remove the salt and hung to dry. How long this takes depends on the size of the ham. After this, they grease the ham with salted lard and finally hang it in special rooms for a longer period of about 1 to 2 years, sometimes even 3.

prosciutto pieces and chopped shallots frying in skillet

The flavour and aroma of the different types of prosciutto crudo depends on a number of things such as the breed of pigs from which the ham comes, how they are reared and what they eat! For example, Prosciutto di Parma is only made from pigs that are raised on approved farms in North-Central Italy. These pigs are fed with cereals and the whey deriving from the production of Parmigiano Reggiano!

dried dischi volanti pasta from Benedetto Cavalieri

The pasta.

I used an interesting pasta for this prosciutto ragu recipe called dischi volanti. The name basically translates into ‘flying saucers’. This pasta shape was apparently invented in Tuscany in the 1950s and was inspired by the sightings of UFOs over Florence in 1954. You can read more about this pasta in my dischi volanti post.

This pasta was inspired by UFO sightings over Florence in 1954.

The dischi volanti I used in this prosciutto ragu recipe I brought back from Salento, Puglia last year. It was given to me by one of the most well-known pasta companies in Puglia, Benedetto Cavalieri. My hubby and I visited them during our holiday.

tomato passata with prosciutto and shallots in skillet

We also came across Benedetto Cavalieri pasta being used in a number of restaurants during our time in Puglia. Interestingly, restaurants there often mention the pasta maker on the menu. It seems this pasta is popular among chefs. I certainly like it a lot. It’s got a subtle flavour of grains and is slightly chewy. Sadly, Benedetto Cavalieri pasta isn’t available where I live, although I can order it online. I know they export to a number of countries, including the US. So do look out for it.

adding milk to the prosciutto ragu in skillet

Traditionally, prosciutto ragu is served with tagliatelle in Emilia-Romagna. I decided to use dischi volanti because I came across a version of this recipe from a restaurant in Florence where they used the same pasta. However, you can use a number of different pastas. Pasta tubes like penne or rigatoni  go well too!

Making this prosciutto ragu with dischi volanti recipe.

This recipe is one of the simplest I found for prosciutto ragu. Like many traditional pasta recipes, there are different versions. In this version, the prosciutto is cut into small pieces, in others it’s ground. Also some people make prosciutto ragu with onions, carrot and celery.

adding the rest of the prosciutto pieces to the ragu in skillet

Known as ‘soffritto’ in Italian, this mix is the base for many Italian sauces. However, in Emilia-Romagna, there are a number of sauces that call for just onions or shallots, like this one for tuna Bolognese. This prosciutto ragu recipe has shallots but you can use normal onions instead.

cooked dischi volanti pasta in skillet with ready ragu

Apart from the prosciutto and the onions, all you need is some tomato passata or polpa, some black pepper, butter and a little milk. Milk may surprise you, but even traditional Bolognese has milk. It helps to offset the acidity of the tomatoes and gives the sauce its characteristic slightly orangey colour. Salt is optional in this sauce as prosciutto is slightly salty and you may not need more.

Prosciutto Ragu with Dischi Volanti Recipe

The wine we drank.

Lastly, a quick mention about the wine we had with this prosciutto ragu with dischi volanti recipe. This bottle of Il Civettaio Sangiovese from Tuscany was a present from a friend from UK who comes to Italy to buy organic wine to sell back home. Rob Seddon has a wine importing company and wine club called Jackson & Seddon. They specialize in artisan, organic wines from small wineries in Italy.

Il Civettaio Sangiovese red wine from Tuscany

My hubby, Salvatore, loves Sangiovese, so he was really happy with this present. According to him Sangiovese is one of the best wine grapes in Italy. In fact, it’s used to make some of the most well-known and prestigious wines from Tuscany; Chianti Classico, Brunello di Montalcino and Nobile di Montepulciano.

Prosciutto Ragu with Dischi Volanti

For the same reasons that we love pasta made with organic wheat, we love discovering organic wines too. However, Salvatore is the wine expert in our family. In fact, I’m thinking of getting him to give me wine pairing recommendations for my recipes! Anyway, this wine is really very pleasant and fresh with notes of plums and red berries. It was a great accompaniment to this prosciutto ragu recipe. One of those matches that makes both the wine and food sing!

Prosciutto Ragu with Dischi Volanti Recipe

If you do make this prosciutto ragu with dischi volanti recipe, I’d love to hear how it turns out. Please write a comment here on the blog or post a comment on the Pasta Project Facebook page.

Your feedback means a lot to me!

Buon Appetito!

Other recipes with prosciutto crudo.

  1. Tagliolini with San Daniele

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Prosciutto Ragu with Dischi Volanti Recipe
5 from 33 votes
prosciutto ragu with dischi volanti recipe
Prosciutto Ragu with Dischi Volanti Recipe from Emilia-Romagna.
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
30 mins
 

This prosciutto ragu with dischi volanti pasta is a fabulous alternative to Bolognese. It’s faster and easier to make but just as flavourful! With just 3 main ingredients, this is perfect for weeknights.

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Emilia-Romagna, Italian, Northern Italy
Keyword: dischi volanti, messicani pasta, prosciutto crudo, ragu
Servings: 4
Calories: 626 kcal
Author: Jacqueline De Bono
Ingredients
  • 400 g dischi volanti pasta (14oz) also called messicani or other short pasta
  • 300 g prosciutto crudo (10-11oz) diced
  • 2 shallots peeled and finely chopped
  • 20 g butter (1oz)
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 400 g tomato passata (14oz) or polpa (which is thicker)
  • salt for pasta
  • Freshly ground black pepper. to taste
  • 60 g Parmigiano Reggiano (2oz) to serve
Instructions
  1. Cut the prosciutto into small pieces (without removing the fat) Peel and chop the shallots.

  2. Saute the shallots in a heavy frying pan or skillet in the butter. After a minute add half the prosciutto pieces.

  3. Cook over a medium heat for about 3-4 minutes,stirring frequently to prevent the ham from burning or sticking.

  4. Then add the tomato passata and continue cooking on a low heat for about 15 minutes. Every now and then add a little milk until you’ve used it up. Add the rest of the ham and cook for another 5 minutes. Add black pepper as required.

  5. While the sauce is simmering put a pot of water on to boil for the pasta. Add salt once it starts to boil and bring to the boil again. Cook the pasta al dente according to the instructions on the packet. When the pasta is ready, save a cup of the cooking water and drain.

  6. Add the pasta to the sauce and mix well. If the sauce seems dry add a little of the pasta cooking water. Serve immediately with grated Parmigiano Reggiano.

Recipe Notes

I served this prosciutto ragu with dischi volanti pasta. Traditionally it’s eaten with tagliatelle but other pasta is good too.

The prosciutto is added to the sauce in two stages so some is well cooked and some still a little fresh. This helps to emphasize the prosciutto flavour! 

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69 Comments

  • Avatar
    Lathiya
    May 23, 2020 11:01 pm

    It’s really interesting to know that this pasta is inspired from UFO sightings. The pasta dish looks great and delicious.

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    Julie @ Running in a Skirt
    May 12, 2020 5:08 pm

    This is a fabulous ragu! The flavors are perfect and it pops off the plate. So tasty and one you will want to make again and again.

    • Avatar
      The Pasta Project
      May 13, 2020 2:58 am

      Thank you, Julie. It tastes as good as it looks!

  • Avatar
    April
    May 12, 2020 8:10 am

    This sounds great! I have never seen this kind of pasta in the states. I’m a big pasta lover, so I will be on the search for some volanti pasta! I really like your milk in the sauce idea!

    • Avatar
      The Pasta Project
      May 13, 2020 3:03 am

      A local Italian deli or an online supplier might be good places to try. Any short pasta would work with this dish!

  • Avatar
    Sam | Ahead of Thyme
    May 11, 2020 8:00 am

    This pasta looks absolutely delicious! I am always looking for new ways to make pasta, so this is perfect. Can’t wait to try it soon!

    • Avatar
      The Pasta Project
      May 13, 2020 3:07 am

      I hope you get to try it, Sam. Thank you for your comment!

  • Avatar
    Marwin Brown
    May 11, 2020 4:40 am

    Love this use of the prosciutto, looks delicious and filling!

    • Avatar
      The Pasta Project
      May 13, 2020 3:10 am

      Thank you, Marwin. The prosciutto is beautiful in this dish!

  • Avatar
    LaKita
    May 11, 2020 12:57 am

    This pasta looks so flavorful and delicious! I am always looking for a new pasta recipe to try and I will be saving this recipe to try soon.

    • Avatar
      The Pasta Project
      May 13, 2020 3:12 am

      Thank you for taking the time to comment, Lakita. I do hope you get to try the recipe!

  • Avatar
    Ramona Sebastian
    May 10, 2020 8:52 pm

    This pasta dish looks so delicious and I am so sure the Prosciutto brings so much flavour into the dish. I’m actually looking forward to trying it, my kids will absolutely love it too. just need to get some prosciutto fairly quick!

    • Avatar
      The Pasta Project
      May 13, 2020 3:13 am

      Your kids have wonderful taste Ramona!

  • Avatar
    Emily
    May 10, 2020 8:30 pm

    This pasta has such great flavor and I love the addition of prosciutto which is my favorite cured meat! Yum!

    • Avatar
      The Pasta Project
      May 13, 2020 3:14 am

      This would be the perfect recipe for you Emily!

  • Avatar
    Alena
    May 10, 2020 6:19 pm

    Those pasta shapes are so fun! I’ve never seen them before but am definitely going to be on the lookout now. I love how hearty the sauce is too.

    • Avatar
      The Pasta Project
      May 13, 2020 3:16 am

      Aren’t they great? So very 1950s atomic! The ragu can be served with short pasta if you cannot find dischi volanti pasta!

  • Avatar
    Gail Montero
    May 10, 2020 6:18 pm

    It’s Mother’s Day and this is the kind of comfort food I want on our table. What we have right now is spaghetti and meatballs but this would be on the menu next! YUM!

    • Avatar
      The Pasta Project
      May 13, 2020 3:19 am

      I hope you had a wonderful Mother’s Day! Meatballs are always a welcome meal!

  • Avatar
    Sondra Barker
    May 10, 2020 6:02 am

    Prosciutto is my favorite! I love that you added it to this dish, it looks amazing- can’t wait to try it out!

    • Avatar
      The Pasta Project
      May 13, 2020 3:23 am

      Thank you, Sondra. If you love prosciutto, I am sure this recipe will be a favourite!

  • Avatar
    Nart at Cooking with Nart
    May 10, 2020 12:52 am

    This is an amazing recipe. I tried it and it was so, so good!

    • Avatar
      The Pasta Project
      May 13, 2020 3:26 am

      Thank you, Nart. I am so happy to hear that you liked it!

  • Avatar
    Rachel
    May 9, 2020 11:34 pm

    I’ve never made anything like this before. I’ve been trying new recipes since being quarantined and I’m excited to try this one too.

    • Avatar
      The Pasta Project
      May 13, 2020 3:27 am

      This is a great recipe to start with, and I hope you get chance to look at the many others on my site that are easy and delicious!

  • Avatar
    LINDSEY PINE
    May 9, 2020 10:41 pm

    This recipe takes me back to being in Italy! Love this recipe and the simple ingredients!

    • Avatar
      The Pasta Project
      May 13, 2020 3:32 am

      That is a compliment, Lindsey! I hope you get to Italy again!

  • Avatar
    Paula Montenegro
    May 9, 2020 8:05 pm

    A ragú made with prosciutto, how can I not love it! I never heard of the short pasta you use, but it’s great to always learn something new about pasta in this blog.

    • Avatar
      The Pasta Project
      May 13, 2020 3:33 am

      Thank you Paula. The prosciutto is delicious!

  • Avatar
    Amy Liu Dong
    May 9, 2020 9:59 am

    I love how simple to prepare this dish for everyone and it looks really delicious, thank you for sharing this recipe.

    • Avatar
      The Pasta Project
      May 13, 2020 3:35 am

      It is a great dish to feed a crowd, Amy. It is equally as good as a meal for two!

  • Avatar
    AJ
    May 9, 2020 4:56 am

    Love the shape of these pasta. Will be trying it soon.

    • Avatar
      The Pasta Project
      May 13, 2020 3:36 am

      I love it too. Hope you can get hold of some!

  • Avatar
    Beth
    May 9, 2020 12:02 am

    This looks delicious, and I can imagine how much flavor the prosciutto must give the dish.

    • Avatar
      The Pasta Project
      May 13, 2020 3:38 am

      Thank you, Beth. The prosciutto gives the dish a beautiful depth of flavour.

  • Avatar
    Michelle
    May 8, 2020 10:26 pm

    I got hungry just reading this post! LOL 😉 I will need to pick up some prosciutto and make this recipe!

    • Avatar
      The Pasta Project
      May 13, 2020 3:39 am

      That’s a good thing right? I hope you get to try it!

  • Avatar
    Tatiana
    May 8, 2020 9:05 pm

    I’m trying this dish for tomorrow’s dinner! I love that the recipe is super easy to follow, but at the same time it’s so sophisticated!

    • Avatar
      The Pasta Project
      May 13, 2020 3:43 am

      Thank you, Tatiana. I hope you get to try it!

  • Avatar
    Amanda
    May 8, 2020 7:35 pm

    Oh, my, what a delicious bowl of pasta! I love how simple the ingredients are, but they pack a flavor punch.

    • Avatar
      The Pasta Project
      May 13, 2020 3:43 am

      Simple and delicious is always a winning combination!

  • Avatar
    Lesli Schwartz
    May 8, 2020 6:32 pm

    Another beautiful pasta dish, Jacqui! I’ve never seen this dischi volanti pasta before but they have a great shape to them. Will look for this next time I’m at the store!

    • Avatar
      The Pasta Project
      May 13, 2020 3:44 am

      They are fabulous, aren’t they? I hope you get your hands on some!

  • Avatar
    Stine Mari
    May 8, 2020 6:09 pm

    Yes, the one drawback with bolognese is how long it can take to make it delicious, so this is a very nice alternative. And those flying saucers pastas are just too cute!

    • Avatar
      The Pasta Project
      May 13, 2020 3:46 am

      This ragu is the perfect dish if you are craving bolognese, but do not have the time. And I agree, they are too cute!

  • Avatar
    GUNJAN C Dudani
    May 8, 2020 4:40 pm

    Anything pasta is absolutely desirable in my family so without saying anything we thumbs up to this dish.

    • Avatar
      The Pasta Project
      May 13, 2020 3:46 am

      That is the same as my family, Gunjan!

  • Avatar
    Candice
    May 8, 2020 4:32 pm

    So much flavor! This ragu is fantastic. Was packed with fantastic flavor, and was so comforting and delicious. We can’t wait to make this again!

    • Avatar
      The Pasta Project
      May 13, 2020 3:47 am

      Thank you, Candice! I am so happy to hear that you tried it and loved it!

  • Avatar
    chad
    May 8, 2020 4:19 pm

    You’re killing me! This looks SOOOOO GOOOD!!! I can’t wait to try out your recipe, can’t wait!

    • Avatar
      The Pasta Project
      May 13, 2020 3:48 am

      Thank you, Chad! I hope you try it soon!

  • Avatar
    Rochelle
    May 8, 2020 12:21 pm

    This pasta looks so delicious. I love the shape of the pasta

    • Avatar
      The Pasta Project
      May 13, 2020 3:48 am

      I do too, Rochelle!

  • Avatar
    veenaazmanov
    May 7, 2020 5:23 am

    Easy , quick and delicious and one of my family favorite Dinner option.

    • Avatar
      The Pasta Project
      May 13, 2020 3:50 am

      That is great to hear!

  • Avatar
    Bernice Hill
    May 7, 2020 3:08 am

    Love this little spin on Bolognese and the flying saucer pasta. I’ve never heard of the pasta style before but I make a similar pasta sauce using double smoked bacon. I’m not sure I could find prosciutto crudo but I’ll ask my friends at the Italian store.

    • Avatar
      The Pasta Project
      May 13, 2020 3:58 am

      Hopefully, they will be able to find some for you. If you cannot find prosciutto crudo, then thick slices of bacon or pancetta that you cut into small pieces yourself would work as well.

  • Avatar
    Jenn
    May 6, 2020 9:13 pm

    Prosciutto ragu sounds like a decadent dish, and it is, but it’s loaded with humble flavors too, making this a unique spin on usual meat sauces. I loved every bite of it, and next time I’ll make a double batch so I have enough for a second meal!

    • Avatar
      The Pasta Project
      May 13, 2020 3:56 am

      That is a great idea!

  • Avatar
    CRYSTAL HUGHES
    May 6, 2020 8:54 pm

    I love how simple and delicious this Proscuitto ragu pasta dish is. So delicious

    • Avatar
      The Pasta Project
      May 13, 2020 3:55 am

      Thank you, Crystal.

  • Avatar
    Caitlyn Erhardt
    May 6, 2020 8:50 pm

    Great recipe! It was loved by everyone and a great crowd pleaser.

    • Avatar
      The Pasta Project
      May 13, 2020 3:55 am

      Thank you for your comment, Caitlyn. Lovely to know that it was a hit!

  • Avatar
    Irina
    May 6, 2020 8:27 pm

    We love Italian cuisine, and your recipe is not an exception. I made it for the our lunch, and we enjoyed the meal. Pinning for later.

    • Avatar
      The Pasta Project
      May 13, 2020 3:53 am

      Thank you, Irina. It is lovely to know that you made it and loved it!

  • Avatar
    Priya Lakshminarayan
    May 6, 2020 8:12 pm

    I had always seen this pasta variety but never bought it..now that I know how it looks, I would love to cook with it

    • Avatar
      The Pasta Project
      May 13, 2020 3:52 am

      I hope you see it again, now you have this recipe!

  • Avatar
    Marta
    May 6, 2020 5:27 pm

    The ragú is amazing, but those little “flying saucers” are the cutest things ever!

    • Avatar
      The Pasta Project
      May 13, 2020 3:51 am

      Aren’t they special! Thank you, Marta!

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