You guys, I am so excited about these next few months. It’s Thanksgiving soon, which means feasting galore (and sides-a-palooza!), and after that it’s the run-up to Christmas, which is pretty much a giant, no-holds-barred excuse to bake every single holiday cookie I can think of, and then it’s Christmas for real, and we’ll be flying out to see my family for the first time in over a year! Such good things ahead.
Best of all, in the true spirit of the giving season, I’ll be participating in a couple of giveaways that I’m super pumped about. And the first of them is today! I’m teaming up with some amazing bloggers and Vermont Creamery to give away products from a whole set of stellar Vermont businesses. There’s chocolates, a cake carrier, a French taper rolling pin (that you could use to make this pasta!), adorable stationery, maple syrup and maple cream, and, of course, a droolworthy amount of Vermont Creamery crème fraîche, goat cheese, and cultured butter. Not only are Vermont Creamery’s products some of the best I’ve ever had, but every one of the lovely people I’ve had the pleasure of working with has been unfailingly wonderful. There’s something special about a brand where it’s so evident that everyone there truly cares about their mission, the quality of their products (all handmade in Vermont!), and the lives that they touch through their business. It shows in everything from the unbeatable quality of the products they offer to this thoughtfully curated giveaway. (And I mean, they post cute goat Instagrams.) I’m truly honored to pair up with them.
For my contribution to Vermont Creamery’s month-long crème fraîche celebration, I went for a homemade pappardelle. I think every time I’ve made pasta by hand, there’s a moment halfway through where I’m totally, utterly convinced I am not going to make it to the end. It always starts with a false sense of confidence (like, oh, it’s still totally okay I don’t have a pasta machine! Last time wasn’t that hard. I was just sore for like, a day. Two days? Plus, this time I’m using that recipe that’s supposed to be way easier to roll out by hand. So doable!) Then, piles of flour, ten egg yolks and two burning biceps (triceps?) later, I’m dusted head-to-toe with flour and swearing to Bowl #2 and anyone who will listen, this is impossible, I’m not convinced my arms are still connected to my body, tie me to the mast and never let me be tempted by the siren that is homemade pasta ever again.
So maybe I need an arm workout or two.
But with Vermont Creamery crème fraîche waiting for the sauce, I think it was a little easier (maybe?) to soldier through this time! And in truth, there’s just something so beguiling about seeing your own handmade, sunny-yellow noodles bobbing merrily to the top of a pot of boiling water, looking just like something you previously never thought you’d be able to make yourself. Here, I used an adaptation of Jeffrey Steingarten’s tajarin recipe, cut a little wider for pappardelle (and made with, as you might have guessed, a terrifying number of egg yolks). It was my favorite homemade pasta so far — the extra egg yolks do make it much easier to work with, and the noodles that resulted were eggy, toothsome, and satisfying, especially when tossed in a tangy-sweet sauce made from crème fraîche, kabocha puree, and a touch of spice, with a little bit of brown butter and sage for an earthy undertone. I took one bite of this pasta and remembered exactly why — in a month or two — I’ll be willing to give this a shot again.
As for the giveaway, I’m still pondering how to rig this to win it all myself. But until I figure it out, you can use the widget below to enter! 🙂
Kabocha, crème fraîche & sage pappardelle
This season I’ve been trying my hand at different squashes than pumpkin, as much as I love my old standby. This recipe uses kabocha, an Asian variety of winter squash that’s almost unfairly sweet — I loved it. But you should feel free to use whatever puree you have on hand, from a good old can of Libby’s to butternut, acorn squash, or delicata.
If you’re wary of the high number of egg yolks in the pasta, try 2 cups flour and 4 large eggs instead — though it may be difficult to roll it out by hand to your desired thinness. A pasta machine would be best in that case. And of course, feel free to use storebought fresh pappardelle or substitute your favorite pasta recipe.
- Yield: serves 3-4. 1x
for the pappardelle (adapted from Jeffrey Steingarten):
- 2 cups (250 grams) all-purpose flour (or 00 flour, if you prefer or if you can get it)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt, plus more for boiling the water
- 10 egg yolks
- extra flour, for dusting
for the sauce:
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 7–8 sage leaves (a small handful)
- 2/3 cup kabocha puree (see Notes below)
- 1/4 cup creme fraiche
- 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
- Pinch nutmeg
- about 1/4–1/3 cup reserved pasta water, for thinning
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 2–3 tablespoons chopped walnuts or almonds, for garnish (optional)
- Combine the flour and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the center, and add the egg yolks. Stir with a wooden spoon until it comes together into a dough. On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough until smooth and elastic, about 5-10 minutes. Wrap in plastic wrap or place in a Ziploc bag and let rest for 45 minutes to an hour.
- Cut dough into several pieces. If rolling the pasta by hand, place one portion of the dough on a well-floured surface and roll it out into as large a rectangle as you can manage, then fold the sheet in half or into thirds and roll it out again, and repeat as many times as you’re able. This can be tough by hand (though probably tougher for me than it should have been!) so just do it as many times as you can comfortably manage, rolling the pasta sheet as thin as you can each time. If using a pasta machine, see this post for instructions on how to prepare this recipe.
- To cut the noodles, generously dust the sheet with flour, then roll the sheet up into a log, cinnamon-roll style, and slice using a serrated knife to your desired width. Tajarin is technically a very thin-cut noodle, but I went with wider pappardelle here. Once sliced, unroll the individual noodles and toss generously in flour to make sure it doesn’t stick together. Set aside.
- Melt the butter over medium-low heat in a large saucepan or wok. Add the sage leaves and cook, stirring, until butter browns and sage leaves are crispy (about 2 minutes). Remove the sage leaves and set aside. Add the kabocha, creme fraiche, nutmeg and cinnamon and stir until smooth. Taste and season with salt and pepper to taste. Turn the heat to its lowest setting to keep the sauce warm while the pasta cooks.
- Bring a large pot of well-salted water to boil, then add the fresh pappardelle. If handmade, it should take no longer than 1-2 minutes for the pasta to cook. Generally, the pasta is done when the noodles float to the surface.
- Use a pasta claw or tong to remove the pasta and add it directly to the sauce, letting some of the starchy water come with it. Toss the pasta until well-coated in sauce. If you’ve turned the heat off, you may want to turn it back to low for this step. Add another ladle or two of the pasta water as needed to loosen the sauce. Garnish with the reserved sage leaves and a handful of chopped walnuts or almonds, if desired. Serve immediately.
To make your own kabocha puree, use a sturdy knife to slice the kabocha in half. Lightly oil the cut sides, then place on a baking sheet and bake at 450 for about 40-50 minutes, or until kabocha is tender. Scoop out the seeds and use a food mill or food processor to puree.