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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Sounds like you had a fun Sunday. The Bay to Breakers is always an experience! I actually just won a giveaway for this cookbook. Your pasta dish looks delicious, I'm even more excited about it now!


I love your portraits! I'm always so nervous to ask strangers if I can take their photo, you did an awesome job, so worth it! The flavors in this pasta sound delicious, and for some reason I've never thought to cut asparagus into rounds, but it makes total sense for a dish like this!


Hi Heidi! You're right, the photo turned out pretty well! I'm actually a brunette in real life so it was fun to play the part for a day and actually the wig kept me warm! It was so nice to meet you – I think there must be some serendipity that we ran into each other again! HS: It was great meeting you as well Alicia! Thanks for being such a good sport. I'll look for you in the neighborhood (as a brunette ;)..


I can't wait to try this recipe - it combines some of my favorite spices with one of the best meals in the world - butter + pasta! So divine! (I'm based in Monterey currently - I hope your trip down here is/was lovely, and if you're ever looking for local foodie secrets, let me know!)


Can someone answer this? Does Yotam have more than one cookbook. I have ordered PLENTY and would love any other books he's done. I thank you for this post. I can't wait to make this dish. Your blog is awesome!! HS: Two books Jewels, Ottolenghi & Plenty.


This looks positively heavenly. I can only imagine how good it would be with homemade pasta...I need to get on that. xxSAS

Sarah from 20somethingcupcakes

what a fun day! great shots :) the pasta looks lovely and i'm sure i could find all sorts of uses for the spiced butter! have a great time in Monterey - i'm heading over that way later this summer!

heather @ chiknpastry

Looks yummy! I'll definitely have to try this recipe. I have a weakness for any pasta and butter combination. I loved the portraits too.


I've never heard of this recipe before! It looks so freaking good. Awesome.


Sounds awesome. Just ordered the cookbook and have the other one at home. Mersea, I disagree about Yotam being pretentious. I think his recipes are a reflection of his location. He is in London and has access to ingredients that are not readily available everywhere (in Chicago anyway, don't know where you are). The recipes of his that I have made have all been REALLY good. Give him a try.


Looks great. I'm going to make it tonight. Saw a talk on inspiring me to become a weekday vegetarian - this might help to convince the family that vegetarian recipes can be totally delicious

Elly Toft

Heidi, I started churning my own butter with fresh cream from a local farm that raises beautiful, well-loved grass-fed Jersey cows.I just began experimenting with the additions like spices, agave, my herbs, tuffles, nuts, dried fruit, hemp, cocao, you name it, anything I thought could be tasty...I can't wait to try this with my butter!


soooo good. just made the sauce up and the house smells fabulous! i was recently gifted your lovely cookbook, my cupboards are full of new fun things!


Both looks and sounds fantastic! Put the ingredients on my grocery list for tomorrow!

Annmarie Kostyk

Those shots are great! And so is the recipe. It's reminding me that I haven't eaten lunch yet...

Michelle @ Find Your Balance

I love the Plenty book. Just made the globe artichokes with crushed broad beans - to die for. Nearly every recipe has a little post-it stuck to it. Your making me homesick with talk of Bay to Breakers. I never got naked (I don't think...) but have plenty of stories from that event. I once had a friend who woke up in a shopping cart and nowhere close to the breakers.


This looks delicious! I would have never thought about making a spiced butter as the base for my flavoring... will have to try this soon!


I love the use of the Poloroid for these portraits. It gives them texture. Such awesome composition. And this pasta looks good too!


Would vegan margarine work in this dish, or is butter absolutely necessary? Thanks--this looks wonderful. Just trying to figure out how to make it for the vegan bf. HS: I think I'd skip the vegan margarine...if I were doing a vegan version, I might take the whole thing in a slightly different direction - coconut oil, spices, & some sort of Asian noodles? Something like this.


Heidi, I love the look of these portraits. I've been looking at Polaroid cameras...would you mind telling me what model you have? The pasta looks amazing!


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