Monday 1 December 2008

PPN Genovese-style pappardelle for feminists

I was looking for plain old green beans when I spied my heart’s desire – plump royal purple asparagus. I’d never heard of such thing till recently. But once I knew it was possible and hard to find, it seemed like the holy grail that I could spend my life seeking fruitlessly (vegetabelessly). And here it was in the local supermarket. The gods were smiling down on me. Is this a new trend to bring joy to those such as myself who love their coloured vegetables? Please tell me yes!

I arrived home with a bunch of fat purple asparagus and a bunch of thin green asparagus. How exciting! There just aren’t enough opportunities to cook in the feminist colours of purple and green. When breathlessly told E of my wonderful discovery he said it was probably just dyed. The cynic!

Immediately upon seeing the purple my dinner plans were amended. The recipe I had planned was a Genovese Style Tagliatelle from a Jamie Oliver column in Delicious Magazine from September 2005. I had borrowed the magazine from the library recently (and discovered their new photocopying system does not seem to work). According to Wikipedia, classic basil pesto originated in Genoa, which I assume is where this dish gets its name.

This tagliatelle was to be served with pesto, thinly sliced potatoes and green beans. Mine was served with purple and green asparagus in place of the beans. I also had some cherry tomatoes that needed to be used which I chopped and scattered on the pasta. As with many pasta meals, it would have benefited from less pasta and more vegetables or salad. But it was a quick meal after work which can be put together relatively easily.

It was a good recipe but by no means perfect. It was a little heavier than it needed to be. The packet of pappardelle that I bought was 375g and said it served 2. In future I would be more inclined towards Jamie’s quantities of 500g of fresh pasta for 4 people. The pesto I made was quite heavy on the nuts and cheese. I assume this was due to my bunch of basil being smaller than Jamie’s. Which begs the perennial question, how big is a big bunch of basil? But despite these quibbles, it was a good comforting dish that I would make again. Especially if I find purple asparagus again, even though it was not so distinctive in the dish.

I am sending this dish to Ruth of Once Upon a Feast who is hosting this week’s Presto Pasta Nights.

Genovese style pappardelle
(adapted from Jamie Oliver in Delicious magazine)
Serves 2 (with leftover pesto)

- 40g pinenuts
- 1 small garlic clove, chopped
- 1 big bunch basil
- Juice of half a medium lemon (or more to taste)
- Extra virgin olive oil – I used 2 slurps
- 75g parmesan cheese, finely grated
- 100g baby potatoes
- 250g fresh papperdelle
- 2 bunches (about 400-500g) asparagus (preferably purple and green combination)
- cherry tomatoes and extra basil leaves to serve (optional)

Blend pinenuts, garlic, lemon juice, basil and half parmesan cheese in food processor. Add enough olive oil to make a paste. Set aside.

Peel potatoes and discard peel. Then use potato peeler to produce fine sliced (or peeled) strips of potato. Chop asparagus into 1-2 inch pieces. If asparagus is thick, slice it lengthwise.

Bring large saucepan of salted water to the boil and add potato, asparagus and pasta to the pot. Cook about 3 minutes til pasta is al dente and potato is soft. Drain and keep some of the pasta water. Return pasta mixture to the saucepan and mix with enough pesto to lightly coat (I used about two thirds of the pesto mixture). Add a little pasta water if too thick. Taste and season.

Serve with parmesan cheese, cherry tomatoes and basil leaves scattered over the pasta.

On the Stereo:
Imperium: Current 93


  1. Hehe cute title-that immediately caught my eye. And that pasta looks fantastically fresh!

  2. This sounds divine! I've never had purple asparagus, but must look for it now. Of course, anything "for feminists" would draw me in anyway. . . I never knew those were feminist colors!

    I share your frustration, too--doesn't a "big bunch" depend on the size of the hand holding it?

  3. That looks gorgeous Johanna and I liked your substitutions! I haven't had this dish for so long and I don't think I have ever enjoyed it with fresh pesto, so that tells you how long it has been since I had it last! I am craving it again now.

  4. I've never ever seen purple asparagus (white and green yes, but sadly not purple, not here :().

    This looks like a yummy pasta dish (and the fact that it's easy definitely earns bonus points ;)). Yum!

  5. Very colorful. Can't wait to try this out but i'll have to wait till Asparagus becomes a bit cheaper.

  6. thanks Lorraine - I think the tomatoes and basil make it look fresh!

    thanks Ricki - oh yes, our suffragette forebears wore purple for passion, green for hope (and white for purity but I am not so into white or purity). As for a bunch - for me it is usually as it comes from where I buy it - probably different if you pick it fresh

    thanks Holler - I think this would be lovely with your pea pesto

    Thanks Vegetation - I thought I would be lucky if I ever found purple asparagus and within weeks it appears - so keep hoping and looking!

    Thanks Anjay - if you don't want to wait, you could try this dish in any season with green beans instead of asparagus

  7. Congrats on your No Croutons Required win! It did look *delicious*!

    I have never seen purple asparagus but it looks gorgeous, especially since it has such good feminist credentials!

  8. Thanks Lysy - I always love a vegetable with good feminist credentials :-)

  9. So pretty and a perfect combo for me - pesto and asparagus! Thanks for sharing with Presto Pasta Night.

  10. I have never seen purple asparagus! No matter, this looks gorgeous and I can't wait to try it.


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