Pappardelle with Spiced Butter

  • 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 each: ground ginger, sweet paprika?, ground coriander?, ground cinnamon?
  • scant 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon each: red chile flakes?, ground turmeric?, 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. Serve the pasta in a large bowl, or divided across plates, sprinkle with pine nuts and herbs. Serves 4 – 6.