We’re not planners… never have been, never will be. A lot of times we pay a hefty price for this behavior (figuratively and also quite literally), but that all becomes worth it when exciting surprises and unexpected happenings occur simply because we’re open to following a whim.
Not that this is an example of a life changing “happening”, but isn’t it the small moments that really count? Last Saturday night after a long day of working, we were trying to decide which of our “weekend rotation” restaurants we would go to. Every place seemed to have a crazy 2 hour wait and then it dawned on us that it was Valentine’s weekend.
The last thing I felt like at 8pm was heading to the grocery store, but then inspiration struck. I had this book right next to me on my desk… I opened it up and let the pages randomly fall, and this pasta dish was the recipe it landed on.
Beautiful wide noodles are tossed with an unexpected spiced butter sauce. It’s sort of an Italy meets Morocco… and then they took a quick jaunt to Spain… kind of dish. (Which, come to think of it, sounds remarkably similar to our last vacation.)
There is a seriously bold spice mix in this recipe, but somehow the flavor is still light and balanced. Among other modifications, I added a little lemon juice and zest for some brightness and a little brown sugar for some softness.
It turns out that good things sometimes happen when restaurants are booked.
adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty
- 4-6 oz pappardelle pasta, or fettuccini if vegan
- ¼ cup butter or vegan butter
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 shallots, thinly sliceed
- 4 oz crimini mushrooms, sliced in quarters
- ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon sweet paprika
- ¼ teaspoon ground coriander
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric
- Pinch cayenne, to taste
- ½ to 1 teaspoon saffron threads
- 2 handfuls spinach
- Brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon lemon zest
- ½ lemon, for squeezing
- ¼ cup pine nuts, toasted
- 2 tablespoons chopped mint
- 2 tablespoons chopped chives
- Sea salt and fresh black pepper
- White wine vinegar, for drizzling (optional)
- Cook pasta according to package directions.
- Heat the butter and olive oil in a medium saucepan. Add the shallots and mushrooms and cook until they’re soft and browning on the edges. Add the ginger, paprika, coriander, cinnamon, turmeric, cayenne, and a few pinches of salt and cook for 30 seconds more. Turn off the heat.
- Drain the pasta and add it to the saucepan with the butter and spices. Add half the saffron along with the spinach, a few pinches of brown sugar, lemon zest, and a squeeze of lemon and stir. Taste and adjust seasonings. If it’s too spicy, drizzle with some white wine vinegar.
- Remove from heat and portion onto plates. Top with the remaining saffron threads, toasted pine nuts, mint, and chives.