Frequent readers will know that Spectacularly Delicious has a fondness for tall food. From croquembouche pyramids to kugelhopf ziggurats, the peaks of Mont Blancs to tumbling cascades of lobster, we take the “haute” in haute cuisine very seriously.
With asparagus still top of mind, the green beans have been replaced. A smattering of prosciutto and fanciful carrots add flavor and flair. The biggest adjustment has been the cooking time. A firm dome requires baking 50 minutes in our experience.
11 tablespoons butter, plus more for the pan
6 slender zucchini (about 2 pounds), minced
3 medium carrots
1 bunch asparagus, about 1 lb.
1/2 c. minced prosciutto or smoked ham
1 1/4 pounds bucatini pasta
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup grated pecorino cheese
3/4 pound deli-sliced high-quality provolone
1. Prepare the vegetables. Peel the carrots; cut one into rounds or better yet, into flower shapes. Mince the other two carrots.
2. Peel the aspargus. Cut of the first 1 1/2″ of the tips. Chop the remainder into small pieces.
3. Preheat the oven to 350º. Very generously butter an 8 to 9-inch dome-shaped oven-safe container such as a Pyrex or metal bowl.
2. Heat 2 tablespoons of butter in a large frying pan and add zucchini; fry until soft. Put the zucchini into a large bowl. Using the same pan, cook the prepared carrots and asparagus tips and bits in 1 tablespoon of butter over low heat, covered, until tender, adding a few drops of water, if needed. Stir into the bowl with the zucchini until well combined. Pick out and set aside the asparagus tips and some of the carrot rounds or flowers as garnish for later.
3. Cook the pasta in boiling salted water for 2/3 of the package’s recommended time. Drain and divide, putting 3/4 of the pasta into the large bowl of vegetables and the remaining 1/4 into a small bowl with 2 tablespoons of butter. Set aside; the small bowl, it will be used for the outer part of the dome.
4. Add 6 tablespoons of butter to the pasta-vegetable bowl and stir until the butter melts, then stir in the beaten eggs, pecorino cheese, and freshly grated black pepper. Using kitchen scissors, cut into the pasta mixture so it is broken up a little. Set aside.
5. From the plain buttered pasta, using one strand and starting in the center of the prepared domed container, twirl the pasta around itself to form a coil. Continue the coil with another strand of pasta starting where the last strand ended so it is in one continuous line; continue with additional strands until half way up the pan. Line the pasta with slices of provolone cheese, pressing the cheese firmly against the pasta. Put in half of the vegetable-pasta mixture, pressing firmly into the bottom and sides of the bowl to remove any air pockets and densely pack the filling. Top with cheese slices.
6. Continue coiling the plain pasta around the dome to the top, adding a strand at the exact spot the last ended. Line the sides with more cheese slices and top with the remaining vegetable-pasta mixture and slices of cheese. Press the pasta down firmly with a spatula or wooden spoon. This is key to getting a nice compact dome that stays together nicely when sliced. Cut the remaining plain buttered pasta with scissors and press on top of the mixture.
7. Cover the bowl with aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes, then remove the foil and bake uncovered for another 30 minutes, until golden and set. Let rest 10 minutes, then put a serving plate on top of the bowl, and invert it. Hit with a wooden spoon to help the pasta release from the pan, and, using the tip of a spoon or butter knife along the bottom edge of the bowl, begin to remove the bowl from the pasta. Serve garnished with the reserved asparagus tips and decorative carrot rounds.