I had friends coming over for dinner, and when considering what to make, I remembered a recommendation to check out 101 Cookbooks. I was hoping to make use of my pasta maker, as it’s been collecting dust recently. Lucky for me, the first pasta recipe that came up was Pappardelle with Spiced Butter. The recipe called for saffron egg noodles- again luck was with me- I’d just seen such a recipe in Deborah Madison’s cookbook, Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. Looked like dinner was on!
Apparently, the spiced butter recipe originally comes from Israeli chef Yotam Ottolenghi, in a cookbook called Plenty. I’m looking forward to picking up a copy, because the flavors of this dish are complex, unique, and meld together seamlessly. The recipe calls for saffron tagliatelle, and I probably should have cut the pasta a bit less wide than I did. However, I was so eager to have the pasta appear homemade, that it seemed fun to cut the strips on the wide side.
I’m still learning how to make pasta using the hand method of piling the flour up on the table, making a little “bowl” for the eggs, and whisking the egg gradually into the flour. The first go ’round didn’t seem to go as well as it could, so I made a second batch. This time it worked much better. In the end, we were glad to have extra pasta on hand and used both batches. Unfortunately, I forgot to put the saffron infused water in soon enough, which would have made the pasta such a beautiful color. Next time!
I added a bit of diced zucchini to the pasta recipe as it’s squash season. This I sauteed very briefly in its own pan with a little olive oil and added it to the final mix at the end. I also forgot the last splash of cream, but it wasn’t remotely missed. The recipe makes a fair bit of spiced butter, but with the additional pasta, I ended up using most of it.
As an accompaniment to the pasta, we made an arugula salad with figs, homemade croutons, goat cheese, and toasted pecans. Delish! I don’t think figs are quite in season yet, but I couldn’t resist, they looked so good.
Pappardelle with Spiced Butter Recipe
1/4 teaspoon saffron threads
pinch of salt
1 stick / 4 oz / 100 g butter
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
6 medium shallots, chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
scant 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon red chile flakes
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon+ fine grain sea salt
1/2 pound / 8 oz / 225 g dried pappardelle egg pasta (or 1-2 lbs homemade pappardelle)
1/2 pound / 8 oz / 225 g asparagus, sliced into 1/4-inch rounds
splash of cream
1/2 cup / 2 oz / 60 g pine nuts, toasted and chopped
2 tablespoons roughly chopped mint
2 tablespoons roughly chopped parsley
Place a large pot of water over high heat and bring to a boil. In the meantime, use a mortar and pestle to crush the saffron and salt into a fine powder. Set aside.
To make the spiced butter: Place the butter and olive oil in a frying pan and cook the shallots gently for about 10 minutes, or until they soften and the butter browns just a bit. Stir in all the spices, the salt, and a bit of freshly ground black pepper, remove from heat (but keep warm).
Salt the water generously and cook the pasta per the package instructions, or until al dente. Barely thirty seconds before the pasta has finished cooking, add the asparagus. Drain and return the pasta and asparagus to the pot. Stir in the saffron salt. Pour about half of the spiced butter over the pasta, add a small splash of cream, and toss well. Taste, then ask yourself if you need to add more spiced butter or salt. Continue adding more butter until it is to your liking, then reserve any leftover for later use. Serve the pasta in a large bowl, or divided across plates, sprinkle with pine nuts and herbs.
Serves 4 – 6.