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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Another gorgeous and amazing recipe from Heidi! Thank you! Can't wait to try this... I'm totally drooling.

Kendra (

This is my first comment on your site, which I LOVE by the way! I was wondering what type of Polaroid camera you have. I have been looking for a Polaroid, but wasn't sure which to buy, and I really like the tones in these pictures. THANKS! (also, this recipe looks delicious!) HS: Hi Cdubsie, These are from a sx-70, it's a lot of fun.


Another lovely recipe, as usual! I love the sound of the spiced butter; will have to give it a try at some point. And I absolutely loved your portraits! Seems like you were able to find the tamer folks (one of my guy friends was a "Hooters Girl" and took it to the extreme), but they're lovely all the same. :)

Kimberly @ Poor Girl Eats Well

I love the combination of flavors in this pasta. Thank you for the recipe and for sharing your photos.


That parade sounds pretty entertaining! Love the photos. I'm also excited to try out this recipe. Looks delicoius!

Andrea (Sweet N Green)

This recipe would be made right now, for breakfast, but Marin farmer's market is tomorrow, and I want the fresh asparagus from there to be in it. Also, want to check to see if I my extra heavy shocks are working after I eat it. I am an active BASE jumper and skydiver, and your recipes account for bigger canopies, and more time on the elliptical...probably an extra hour apologize to my body in advance. Pine nuts, too. Why not add butter? All of my favorite things at once. Be still my heart!!!


And PS - I think my mum is getting me Plenty for my Birthday in June. I just got their first book from Omnivore books and I love it.

sam breach

Could you use harissa in this recipe or would it just be a little too much?


Heidi - I LOVE your take on Bay to Breakers. Such a refreshing change of pace. HS: Thanks Sam, I hope to cross paths soon - it's really been too long.

sam breach

What an interesting combination of spices! I'm so intrigued...thanks!

Appetite for Conversation

Gosh I'm hungry reading this. Love the portraits - the grainy feel adds a sense of mystery but the front on stance is revealing too. Intimacy and distance combined. Quick question to all reading this - Have pine nuts rocketed in price in your part of the world as they have here in the Middle East? Someone said that it's because they've suddenly been classified as a 'superfood'. Anyway 60g worth won't break the bank.


Why oh why am I reading food blogs while on a cleanse? This looks fantastic and is on my short list when I decide to enough is enough:)

The French

Wow! I'm making this tonight. I am so happy to have found your blog and recipe corner. I am a former SF girl now living deep in the rainforest in the South Pacific of Costa Rica. Running and watching the Bay to Breakers was a great treat when I lived in Marin and SF- I used to live in Rincon Towers on the water's edge. I'm making this delicious dish tonight. When the gang comes home from the evening surf session they're in for a big treat!

Kathleen Hayes

I've had "stranger portraits" at the top of my photography goals for about a year, and can never get up the nerve. These are fantastic, and congrats for getting over the hurdle it takes to do these. I know how hard that can be.

jen maiser

Wow this look incredible! I love food with Safron.

Aysegul @ nysdelight

This looks absolutely amazing! How is it that it's 9AM in the morning in Chicago and I want to be eating this NOW. I make my own homemade papperdelle, pretty easy, and with the butter and spices.....YUM. I think I may have to pick up a copy of "Plenty" as well. Thank you!


Yum! I've been saving some saffron pasta from Dean and Deluca in my cabinet for a while now...I think their appearance should be made here. Thanks!


I guessed the recipe was inspired from 'Plenty' just by reading the title- this book is a goldmine, even though you can get many of the recipe from the Guardian. For the ingredients, I think Ottolenghi exploits such a huge variety that I always find some ideas for cooking. When you actually go to Ottolenghi's restaurant, you always find many dishes from the cookbooks with seasonal replacements, so I'd say they are the first ones to adapt to what tastes good right where you are. Now that I live in Germany I'm leaving out samphire recipes, but have now an abundance of lovely chard and it is definitely easier to come across many turkish cheeses.


The sound of all those spices in that butter sounds fantastic! I love a warm, well-spiced dish.

Samantha Angela @ Bikini Birthday

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