Pappardelle with Spiced Butter Recipe

A recap of my Sunday, including a few portraits I shot, plus a top-notch pasta with spiced butter and asparagus inspired by a recipe from Yotam Ottolenghi's new book.

Pappardelle with Spiced Butter

I made a series of portraits on Sunday, sort of on a whim. Allow me set the stage. Each year the Bay to Breakers weaves it's way through San Francisco. It's a running race, and by that I mean, some people actually run the course. It's also a parade, and San Francisco dearly loves a parade. Elaborate costumes and floats are involved, and not even frosty temperatures prevent (at least some) participants from getting naked. People get drunk. Obliterated drunk. I saw a panda bear curled up under one of the trees in our park (minus his shoes and socks and jeans), and a watermelon slice passed out on the sidewalk outside a coffee 7p.m. So, even though the course brings the race with a few blocks of my house, I usually I stay clear of the mayhem. But this year, Wayne got a call on Saturday from a friend, and they decided at the last minute to run the race.

Pappardelle with Spiced Butter

The alarm clock went off at 6:30, they headed downtown, and I eventually made my way to the coffee shop and then up the hill to do some people watching. I took my Polaroid and a pack of film (10 shots), and started thinking about what sort of photos I might like to take. Sometimes in visually chaotic/busy situations I get overwhelmed, and my camera never comes out of its bag. When I'm crowded by people it's hard to find the little details or moments I find inspiring. But I've been wanting to shoot more portraits lately, so on my way up to Alamo Square I decided I'd focus on that one thing - individual portraits.

Pappardelle with Spiced Butter

I stood in one place for a long time, just outside of the main flow of people, on a corner, and proceed to have a great time. I typically shoot in quiet spaces, with all the time in the world. This was entirely different. Total chaos. Total strangers. I had to be quick - frame, focus, shoot. If I was going to go out of my way to ask a complete stranger if I might take their portrait, I wanted it to be worth it. So, the learning curve was steep, and the little things added up. For example, I learned from the first shot that I needed to step a touch closer to the subject to get the framing I was after, and I learned from the second shot that too much head space cuts off nice costume details. That sort of thing. Anyhow, I thought I'd share my four favorite portraits from the day.

Pappardelle with Spiced Butter

I didn't find Wayne and Mirah until later - we walked around a bit more, had lunch, and then I spent the better part of the afternoon paging through Yotam Ottolenghi's new cookbook, Plenty. I've long been a reader of his new vegetarian column in the, and most of you know what a fan I am of many of the Ebury books. It was nice of them to send me a copy. I decided to do a riff on Yotam's Saffron Tagliatelle with Spiced Butter for dinner. It's a pasta dish tossed with vibrant Moroccan-inspired spice butter made from a blend of eight spices - ginger, paprika, cinnamon, coriander, turmeric, good. I used a dried pappardelle egg pasta, and tossed some asparagus into the mix to work a vegetable onto the plate. It made for a nice spring supper.

Pappardelle with Spiced Butter

So, that was my Sunday. I'm off to Monterey for a few days. I hope you all enjoy the rest of your week (and this pasta if you make it)... -h

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Pappardelle with Spiced Butter

Yotam uses fresh, home-made saffron tagliatelle (the recipe is included in the book), but wanting to throw together a something quick so I opted for a good-quality dried pappardelle I had on hand. On the spice front, you will definitely get some heat from the cayenne pepper, so scale back a bit if you are sensitive. Also, feel free to double up on the spice blend, I've been using the extra in all sorts of things - from eggs to vinaigrettes. Also, this recipe make quite a good amount of spiced butter. Use as much or as little of it as you like. You can always reserve any leftover for drizzling on potatoes, crepes, vegetables, etc. later in the week.

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
black pepper

1/2 pound / 8 oz / 225 g dried pappardelle egg pasta
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. I suggest adding more butter until it is to your liking, then reserve any leftover for later use (see head notes). Serve the pasta in a large bowl, or divided across plates, sprinkle with pine nuts and herbs.

Serves 4 - 6.

Inspired by the Saffron Tagliatelle with Spiced Butter in Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi. Ebury Press, May 2010.

Prep time: 20 minutes - Cook time: 10 minutes

If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!

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These are beautiful portraits; I have seen photos of a San Fransico parade before (my brother lives in the city) involving naked people wiith painted bodies on bicycles; did you not see them this year? I made another Ottolenghi recipe a while ago and loved it. This one sounds great too!


This piced butter sounds wonderful. I love the idea of using it with eggs. Yum!


Sounds like a fun weekend in SanFran! Can't wait to get my hands on a copy of 'Plenty', that pasta looks really good........


The colors in the portraits are amazing and the pasta with the spiced butter is fantastic!

Nisrine@Dinners and Dreams

Love the photos. And the recipe, well, that goes without saying.

Christie {Honoring Health}

Oh I love all the spices in this dish - what a great combo of ingredients!

Simply Life

Good food. Good fun. The photos from your polaroid look nostalgic! Another nice recipe and story from you :)

The Artist Chef (Joanie)

Lovely portraits. Lovely recipe. Robyn


A very tasty looking pasta dish. I like the different textured ingredients such as pine nuts and beans. Yum.

Mark @ Cafe Campana

heidi, bravo on the portraits! i love what you captured, and i admire your willingness to work outside of your usual comfort zone. (of course, the pasta looks delicious)


Lovely chiaroscuro, throughout the sequence. And a joy to read the learning curve involved. I'm coveting Plenty, something awful.... Enjoy your time away!


Mersea, I wonder if there's a regional difference here? Sorrel grows like a weed in my garden, and samphire is readily available. I think of ras el hanout and rosewater as pantry staples, and use saffron routinely. The only thing I'd struggle with is the mangoes.


This looks delicious and wonderful. I shall make it as soon as my self-imposed "pasta ban" is over. Pasta-ban is in place because I often fear turning into a noodle myself I eat them so often. Like a ridiculous amount of often. Every day if I let myself.


The words "spiced butter" caught my eye. Butter is heavenly, spices are heavenly, but spiced butter? On lovely al dente pappardelle? With pine-nuts?! Mint?! Parsley?! You are genius. This sounds absolutely wonderful! :)


Isn't "Plenty" wonderful? I've been a big fan of the Guardian column since it started too. Have you tried the two potato vindaloo? Heavenly.


This looks so divne, hearty and tasty! The combination of spices is intriguing. A must try - thank you for sharing.

Lisa {AuthenticSuburbanGourmet}

I've never run Bay to Breakers, but I always enjoyed watching people prepare for the race and absolute crazy randomness that never failed as an outcome. This pappardelle recipe is going on my list of dishes to make. I love all of the spices in this recipe, great idea to double it.

Christine @ Fresh Local and Best

Heidi - I like many of your recipes, and this sounds good. However, I went to the site you mentioned - Yotam Ottolenghi as The Guardian's New Vegetarian - and found it snooty in the extreme. I am an experienced cook, and a vegetarian from childhood - but recipes with ingredients like "sorrel and samphire...alphonso mango...rosewater and ras el hanout...conchiglie with saffron..." - and that's only the FIRST PAGE - pretty much define pretentiousness and inaccessibility in my book.


I just picked up some great asparagus and mint at a local farmer's market--I think this will be dinner tomorrow night!


That mix of spices sounds positively heavenly! The whole thing sounds kind of Indian, but then with the pasta and the pine nuts, and the jolt of bright, fresh herbs... wow! I can really see that being delicious. So creative. Kudos.

Coco @ Opera Girl Cooks

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