If this recipe reminds you of spring, it’s intentional. Thick pappardelle pasta is tossed in a light, lemony cream sauce with loads of flavorful Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, steamed asparagus, and topped with a soft-cooked egg. This is an enthusiastic way to embrace springtime.
When a recipe has few ingredients, all those ingredients must shine for the total meal to impress. Therefore, I admonish you to make your own pasta dough and cut it into long, thick ribbons for homemade pappardelle pasta. Nothing is quite as delicious or satisfying as making your own pasta.
Choosing Pasta Flour
While there’s nothing wrong with depenable, familiar all-purpose flour to make pasta dough, what you really should do is put on Dino’s album “Italian Love Songs”, pour yourself a glass of Chianti, and make your homemade pasta with “Tipo 00” Italian flour. Yes, you will need to order the real stuff online. “Tipo 00” is the finest grade of flour milled in Italy, and it has a consistency similar to baby powder. It has about 12.5% protein content, which is higher than all-purpose flour and therefore requires less water for hydration.
You will also need semolina flour to prevent the pasta dough from sticking (to itself, to the baking sheet, and to you).
If there is any pasta which you should make by hand (or by mixer) at home, it is pappardelle. It is a culinary effort where the superlative attributes of the pasta are tantamount to the completion of the dish. In other words, nothing else but homemade pappardelle pasta will suffice for the true gourmand.
You knew that you were a gourmand*, right?
This recipe calls for asparagus. Asparagus is a glorious springtime pleasure. At all other times of the year it is an airlifted abomination. Avoid asparagus until you see it available at your local farmer’s market. The best vegetables are seasonal vegetables. From one gourmand to another, trust me on this matter.
What to do first? Make your fresh pasta dough or obtain dried pappardelle pasta. Prepare and assemble your ingredients and steam the asparagus. Start heating the butter and cream while you cook the pasta. Just remember that fresh, homemade pappardelle pasta is what this recipe is all about. Shall I emphasize that again? Stop fantasizing about the asparagus, and pull out your KitchenAid mixer to make some pasta dough.
Poaching eggs is quite easy. Add a generous dose of salt and a miserly dosage of vinegar to a pot of boiling water. Crack your eggs into a fine mesh strainer to allow the loose whites to drain. Gently transfer the eggs from the strainer to glass measuring cup (or a similar container). Reduce heat on the pot to a simmer. Gently tip eggs into the simmering water.
Poached eggs can be reheated in a microwave but this is not optimal. For best results, reheat a poached egg in boiling water for 1 minute. If the eggs were previously cooked you only need to reheat them. Don’t skip the egg on top because this recipe has a lot of lemon flavor that is perfectly balanced by the runny yolk.
- Fresh Pasta Dough
- 1 package thin asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 3 tablespoons butter
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons lemon zest
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ½ cup chiffonade (thinly sliced) basil
- ¼ cup parsley, chopped
- 4 eggs, poached
- ½ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- Prepare fresh pasta dough.
- Steam asparagus, covered, until tender, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a colander, drain, and place in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Set aside.
- Heat a large pot of water over high heat until boiling. Season water with salt. Add pasta and stir. Cook until al dente, about 3 minutes. Reserve ½ cup pasta water then drain pasta through a colander.
- Heat butter and cream in a non-stick pan over medium-low heat. Stir in lemon zest, lemon juice, and salt. Add the pasta and asparagus and toss to coat. Add basil and parsley and toss.
- Top each portion of pasta with warmed poached egg and Parmesan cheese.
*A gourmand is a person who takes great pleasure and interest in consuming good food and drink.