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Paglia e Fieno ~ Straw and Hay Pasta with Crispy Prosciutto

Finished styled photo of Paglia e Fieno pasta on green oval platter.
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Paglia e Fieno, which literally translates to “straw and hay” in Italian, is a classic dish that’s made with two types of pasta–yellow egg fettuccine for the straw and green spinach fettuccine for the hay. The pasta is tossed with a delicious creamy sauce of mushrooms, peas and parmesan cheese that’s finished with a fun crispy prosciutto topping!

Finished styled photo of Paglia e Fieno pasta on green oval platter.

Creamy Paglia e Fieno pasta is a perfect weeknight pasta that comes together quickly! For a few other weeknight pasta ideas, check out Pasta with Broccoli, Vodka Sauce with Fresh Tomatoes, Pasta with Tuna Sauce, Pasta Sorrentina with Fresh Mozzarella and Shrimp Scampi Pasta.

What is Paglia e Fieno?

Paglia e Fieno, or straw and hay pasta, is a pasta dish that hails from the central Italian city of Siena in Tuscany. It derives its name from the green (spinach) and yellow (egg) noodles used in its preparation and is made with either dried or fresh tagliatelle or fettuccine pasta.

Traditionally, hay and straw pasta is almost always made with prosciutto and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese in a cream sauce. And, you will often find either peas or mushrooms in the recipe as well.

My version of this dish is made with both mushrooms and peas–the earthiness of the mushrooms complements the sweetness of the peas really nicely. And, both these ingredients pair nicely with salty and savory prosciutto.

What is this Crispy Prosciutto?

For a unique twist on the classic recipe, I’ve incorporated the signature ingredient of prosciutto very differently. Most recipes call for sautéing the prosciutto along with the other ingredients in the paglia e fieno sauce, resulting in a soft texture. Here, this slices of it are roasted until crispy, then crumbled over the finished dish in a porky crouton sort of way. It’s so incredibly fun and delicious! The crispy texture is also a great contrast to the creaminess of the sauce.

And, as an alternative to the crispy prosciutto topping, I’ve included something very different in the recipe below–an option to make shiitake mushroom “bacon”!

Something wonderful happens when you roast shiitake mushrooms in a hot oven or a smoky cast-iron pan until crispy~just before they are “burnt”. Their flavor turns meatier than usual and, combined with the crispy texture, they taste so close to bacon! It’s definitely worth a try even if you are a pork lover!

Finished styled photo of Paglia e Fieno pasta on green oval platter with wooden spoon and small bowl of crispy prosciutto.

Why This Recipe Works

  • Great anytime: Paglia e Fieno pasta has both seasonal (autumn and spring) and year-round appeal. Make it with fresh peas when in season or frozen the rest of the year.
  • Quick and Easy: This mushroom and pea cream-based sauce comes together quickly and does not require a long simmer time.
  • So Delicious! Plus, this creamy pasta is very satisfying-yum!

This Paglia e Fieno recipe is so simple but so special at the same time with amazing texture and flavor. Hope you and your family give it a try. Mangia bene!

Ingredients for paglia e fieno pasta.

Ingredients for Paglia e Fieno with Crispy Prosciutto

To make this creamy mushroom and pea pasta, we’ll be using:

  • Prosciutto: Salty and savory prosciutto is a signature ingredient in classic paglia e fieno, complementing the sweetness of the peas oh so wonderfully! But, I have incorporated it a bit differently here. Most recipes call for sautéing the prosciutto along with the other ingredients in the sauce, resulting in a soft texture. Here, this slices of it are roasted until crispy, then crumbled over the finished dish in a porky crouton sort of way–so incredibly fun and delicious!
  • Mushrooms and Peas: You’ll often find this recipe with either peas or mushrooms, but not usually both. I actually think that mushrooms and peas go really great together, so I included both. Plus, the earthiness of the mushrooms complements the sweetness of the peas really nicely.
  • Butter: Used to sauté the garlic and mushrooms and again at the end to add richness and silkiness to the finished pasta. If you prefer to not use butter, you can substitute it with extra virgin olive oil.
  • Heavy Cream: The base for the oh-so-creamy and delicious sauce, heavy cream is one of the signature ingredients in this recipe.
  • Parmesan Cheese: The incredible depth of flavor and savoriness of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese is just what the sauce needs to round out its flavors.
  • Pasta: This dish was really made for a combination of the beautiful, complementary green and yellow colors of spinach and egg fettuccine or tagliatelle. You may be able to find packages with nests of these two varieties together. Having said this, the creamy mushroom and pea sauce is extremely versatile and will work with all sorts of short and long shapes of pasta. Some of my other favorites to use in this recipe are gnocchi, ziti, rigatoni, paccheri and pappardelle. I prefer to use dried over fresh pasta for this dish as I think it holds up a bit better, especially when tossing it with the cream sauce at the end. Having said this, you can absolutely use fresh pasta for paglia e fieno. Just note that your timing may be a bit different as fresh pasta cooks much quicker than dried.

A complete and detailed list of ingredients with amounts and instructions is included in the recipe below.⁠

Prepped ingredients for paglia e fieno pasta.

If you’re enjoying this recipe, also check out Lemony Pasta with Peas and Ricotta, another spring favorite with peas!

Paglia e Fieno, Step-by-Step, Pro-Tips Included!

Here are the main steps for how to make creamy straw and hay pasta:

  • Make the crispy prosciutto by roasting thin slices in a 350°F oven until crispy.
    • PRO-TIP: You can make this topping 2 to 3 hours in advance and hold it, uncovered, at room temperature.
Prosciutto slices on parchement lined sheet pan ready to roast in the oven.
Crispy prosciutto in bowl.

  • Alternatively, make shiitake “bacon” as a substitute for the prosciutto by roasting thinly sliced shiitake mushroom caps in a 400°F oven until very crispy and then sprinkling them with fine salt.
    • PRO-TIP: You can make this topping 2 to 3 hours in advance and hold it, uncovered, at room temperature.
Sliced shiitake on sheet pan ready for oven.
Shiitake bacon in bowl.
  • Melt butter in a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium-low heat. Then, add garlic and cook until softened and browned a bit, about 2 to 3 minutes.
    • PRO-TIP: Don’t walk too far away during this step! Garlic can burn very quickly; so, close monitoring is important.

  • Add the mushrooms, salt and black pepper and toss well to coat the mushrooms with the butter. Then, increase heat to medium/medium-high. Cook until all the liquid that the mushrooms give off has evaporated.
    • PRO-TIP: Use a pan or Dutch oven large enough to be able to spread out the mushroom in a single layer. If the pan is too crowded, then the mushrooms will steam instead of brown.
Garlic in melted butter in pan.
Mushrooms cooking in pan.
  • Reduce the heat to medium and add heavy cream to the mushrooms. Cook until thickened slightly, about 5 minutes. Then, turn off the heat.

  • Meanwhile, once the water comes to a boil, add salt, then the pasta, stirring frequently.
Heavy cream being poured into pan with cooked mushrooms.
Pasta being added to pot of boiling water.
  • Turn the mushroom sauce back on to medium-low heat and add the peas after the pasta has been cooking for about 5 minutes.
    • PRO-TIP: Use fresh peas when in season! They will need to cook a bit longer, though. I suggest adding them to the pan along with the heavy cream.

  • Cook the pasta for 2 minutes less than the package directions, or about 2 minutes before you think it is al dente. Be sure to reserve at least 1 cup of the starchy pasta water.

  • Transfer the cooked pasta to the pan and toss well, allowing the pasta to finish cooking in the wonderful flavors of the sauce.
Peas in pan with cream and mushrooms.
Cooked pasta being added to pan with sauce.
  • Add pasta water for additional moisture, about ½ cup at a time.
    • PRO-TIP: The pasta water is key! Add it to the sauce along with the pasta for the additional moisture needed to finish cooking the pasta.

  • Once the pasta is al dente, remove the pan from the heat.
Pasta water being added to cooked pasta and sauce in pan.
Pan full of pasta with sauce and wooden spoon.
  • Gently stir in the remaining 1 Tbsp butter and the parmesan cheese until well-combined. Sprinkle with a bit more grated cheese.
    • PRO-TIP: The additional butter is “mounted” on the finished pasta at the end for additional richness and silkiness.

  • Top with crispy prosciutto or shiitake “bacon” and serve. That’s it!
Parmesan cheese and butter being added to pan of pasta and sauce.

Check out my answer to How Much Salt Should You Add to Pasta Water?” here, as featured in Appetito’s online Italian Food and Drink Magazine. (Hint: I also mention it in the recipe below.)

More Pasta Favorites

If you love pasta, here are a few more recipes to try out:

Side view of Hay and Straw pasta on green oval platter.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best way to clean mushrooms?

Since mushrooms are very porous and absorb liquid very easily, the best way to clean mushrooms is by using a dry paper towel to wipe away any dirt.

Can I use fresh peas in this recipe?

For sure! If using fresh peas, I suggest adding them to the pan along with the heavy cream as they will need to cook a bit longer than frozen.

What is a substitute for the prosciutto in paglia e fieno pasta?

To try something different as an alternative to the prosciutto, make shiitake mushroom “bacon” as the topping for this dish. Something wonderful happens when you roast shiitake mushrooms in a hot oven or a smoky cast-iron pan until crispy~just before they are “burnt”. Their flavor turns meatier than usual and, combined with the crispy texture, they taste so close to bacon!
 
It’s a perfect and easy bacon substitute in a pinch for when you want something healthier with less saturated fat and cholesterol that tastes almost like the real thing. Find the details for how to make shiitake “bacon” in the recipe notes below.

Can I use bacon or pancetta in place of the prosciutto?

Yes. Each will contribute its own unique flavors to the final dish.

How long do leftovers last and how can I reheat paglia e fieno?

Store leftover paglia e fieno pasta in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Reheat it, covered, in a small skillet over medium low heat with a little bit of water until heated through.

Close up of forkful of pasta over dish of paglia e fieno.

Try serving this recipe with Pesto Turkey Meatballs, Sauteéd Broccoli Rabe, Neapolitan Zucchini A Scapece with Vinegar and Mint or Roasted Eggplant with Crispy Garlic and Herbs–all are delicious pairings!

Recipe Variations and Substitutions

Here are a few great suggestions for twists and additions to this Italian pasta recipe:

  • Sauté the prosciutto: Instead of roasting the prosciutto into a crispy topping, add either diced or thinly sliced pieces of it to the pan along with the garlic.
  • Make Shiitake Mushroom “Bacon” instead of Crispy Prosciutto: Even if you love prosciutto, you may want to try this–it is that good. And, I would bet that once you try shiitake “bacon”, you will want to make it frequently to add to all sorts of soups, salads and more! Find all the details for this substitution in the recipe notes below.
  • Use a different pasta: While this dish was really made for a combination of the beautiful, complementary green and yellow colors of spinach and egg fettuccine or tagliatelle its sauce is extremely versatile and will work with many different pasta shapes. Some of my other favorites to use in this recipe are gnocchi, ziti, rigatoni, paccheri and pappardelle.
Finished paglia e fieno on plate topped with parmesan cheese and shiitake bacon.
Paglia e Fieno topped with shiitake mushroom “bacon”

Kitchen Tools for Paglia e Fieno Pasta

To make hay and straw pasta, you’ll need the following:

Finished styled photo of Paglia e Fieno pasta on green oval platter.

More Italian Pasta Recipes to Try

I hope that you are enjoying my Italian food blog Mangia With Michele and all of my Italian recipes!

If you’ve tried Paglia e Fieno ~ Straw and Hay Pasta with Crispy Prosciutto or any other recipe on the blog, please let me know how it went in the comments below. I love hearing from you!

FOLLOW ME on FACEBOOK and INSTAGRAM to see more delicious food and what might be going on behind the scenes!

Finished styled photo of Paglia e Fieno pasta on green oval platter.

Paglia e Fieno ~ Straw and Hay Pasta with Crispy Prosciutto

Michele
Paglia e Fieno, which literally translates to “straw and hay” in Italian, is a classic dish that’s made with two types of pasta–yellow egg fettuccine for the straw and green spinach fettuccine for the hay. The pasta is tossed with a delicious creamy sauce of mushrooms, peas and parmesan cheese that’s finished with a fun crispy prosciutto topping!
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Course Main Course, Pasta
Cuisine Italian
Servings 6 servings

Ingredients
  

  • 5 ounces thinly-sliced prosciutto (See NOTE below.)
  • 5 Tbsp butter, divided
  • 2 Tbsp chopped garlic
  • 1 pound white mushrooms, cleaned and diced or sliced
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 pound combined egg and spinach fettuccine or tagliatelle pasta + salt for pasta water (See NOTE below.)
  • 8 ounces frozen peas, thawed (See NOTE below if using fresh peas.)
  • ½ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (parmesan) cheese + more for top

Instructions
 

  • Prep all ingredients according to specifications above. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
    (Please see the section above in the blog post for Step-By-Step instructions with photos.)
  • Prepare the Crispy Prosciutto: Arrange rack in middle of oven and preheat to 350°F. Carefully arrange prosciutto slices or cut pieces in a single layer on a parchment-lined sheet pan. Roast on middle rack until crispy (about 15 to 20 minutes depending on your oven). Transfer to paper towels to drain and cool, then crumble into smaller pieces if roasted whole. Set aside at room temperature, uncovered. (You can make this topping 2 to 3 hours in advance and hold it, uncovered, at room temperature.)
    5 ounces thinly-sliced prosciutto
  • Alternatively, make Crispy Shiitake Bacon. See details in Notes below.
  • Melt 4 Tbsp butter in a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium-low heat. Then add garlic and cook until softened and browned a bit, about 2 to 3 minutes. Be careful not to burn the garlic.
    2 Tbsp chopped garlic
  • Add the mushrooms, salt and black pepper and toss well to ensure that the mushrooms are coated with the butter. Then, increase heat to medium/medium-high. Cook until all the liquid that the mushrooms give off has evaporated.
    1 pound white mushrooms,, ½ tsp salt, ¼ tsp black pepper
  • Reduce the heat to medium and add heavy cream to the mushrooms. Cook until thickened slightly, about 5 minutes. Then, turn off the heat.
    1 cup heavy cream
  • Meanwhile, once the water comes to a boil, add salt, then the pasta, stirring frequently. Turn the mushroom sauce back on to medium-low heat and add the peas after the pasta has been cooking for about 5 minutes.
    1 pound combined egg and spinach fettuccine or tagliatelle pasta, 8 ounces frozen peas,
  • Cook the pasta for 2 minutes less than the package directions, or about 2 minutes before you think it is al dente. Be sure to reserve at least 1 cup of the starchy pasta water.
  • Transfer the cooked pasta to the pan and toss well, allowing the pasta to finish cooking in the wonderful flavors of the sauce. Add pasta water for additional moisture, about ½ cup at a time.
  • Once the pasta is al dente, remove the pan from the heat. Then gently stir in the remaining 1 Tbsp butter and the parmesan cheese until well-combined
    ½ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (parmesan) cheese
  • Sprinkle with a bit more grated cheese. Transfer to a serving platter, top with crispy prosciutto and serve immediately. Buon Appetito!

Notes

  • The prosciutto can either be roasted in whole pieces or slices. If roasting them in whole pieces, just hand crush them after they have cooled. You can also use diced prosciutto and crisp it up in a pan if you would like.
  • To try something different as an alternative to the prosciutto (or, in addition if you so desire), make shiitake mushroom “bacon” as the topping for this dish. Something wonderful happens when you roast shiitake mushrooms in a hot oven or a smoky cast-iron pan until crispy~just before they are “burnt”. Their flavor turns meatier than usual and, combined with the crispy texture, they taste so close to bacon! To make it: thinly slice about 6 ounces shiitake mushroom caps and arrange them in a single layer on a lightly oil-sprayed, parchment-lined sheet pan. Spray the top with a bit of oil as well. Then, roast them in a 400°F oven until very crispy (about 10-12 minutes or longer depending on your oven). Remove them from the oven and immediately sprinkle them with fine salt. Set aside at room temperature, uncovered. (You can make this topping 2 to 3 hours in advance and hold it, uncovered, at room temperature.)
  • If using fresh peas, I suggest adding them to the pan along with the heavy cream as they will need to cook a bit longer than frozen.
  • Use a pan or Dutch oven large enough to be able to spread out the mushroom in a single layer. If the pan is overcrowded, then the mushrooms will steam instead of brown.
  • Use a large pot with 5 to 6 quarts water for 1 pound of pasta. Bring the water to a boil before adding the salt. Use 1½-2 Tbsp salt.
  • The pasta water is key! Add it to the sauce along with the pasta for the additional moisture needed to finish cooking the pasta.
  • This dish was really made for a combination of the beautiful, complementary green and yellow colors of spinach and egg fettuccine or tagliatelle. You may be able to find packages with nests of these two varieties together. Having said this, the creamy mushroom and pea sauce is extremely versatile and will work with all sorts of short and long shapes of pasta. Some of my other favorites to use in this recipe are gnocchi, ziti, rigatoni, paccheri and pappardelle. I prefer to use dried over fresh pasta for this dish as I think it holds up a bit better, especially when tossing it with the cream sauce at the end. Having said this, you can absolutely use fresh pasta for paglia e fieno. Just note that your timing may be a bit different as fresh pasta cooks much quicker than dried.
  • The additional butter is “mounted” on the finished pasta at the end for additional richness and silkiness.
 
Recipe by Mangia With Michele. Please visit my site for more great cooking inspiration!
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3 thoughts on “Paglia e Fieno ~ Straw and Hay Pasta with Crispy Prosciutto

  1. 5 stars
    Absolutely LOVED this dish. It was so easy to make and the detailed instructions and photos were so helpful. Peas, prosciutto and mushrooms oh my!!! So good, so flavorful. Can’t wait to make it again.

    1. I’m so happy you enjoyed the recipe, Liz! Thanks for the comment. 🙂

  2. 5 stars
    I had this years ago in a restaurant and loved it! Can’t wait to try your version at home.

5 from 2 votes
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