My love for Giada De Laurentiis has long been one of the driving forces in my kitchen. She has dedicated sacred space on the cookbook shelves, and I reach for her books when I need simple, reliable, good Italian food. Which is all the time, except when I get adventurous with more complicated fare. And this is a great fast, summer supper from Everday Italian, her first book.

8 ounces dried penne (the original called for ziti)
1 lb. asparagus, trimmed and cut diagonally into 1″ pieces
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
3 ounces smoked mozzarella, diced (about 1/2 cup)
3 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto, cut crosswise into trips
3 Tbsp thinly sliced fresh basil

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