Today we’re talking about capers from Pantelleria, tiny but very rich in flavour. But there’s more, we’ll also...
Egg pappardelle in 5 variations of goodness
Fresh egg pappardelle are one of the most typical pasta shapes of Tuscany. Technically speaking we can simply define them as long, fresh, egg pasta noodles, but to really explain them what we really need is a bite.
Because it takes a first-hand experience to imagine the pappardelle’s rough and porous surface, the rustic consistency given by their thickness, around 8 millimeters, and the unmistakable taste of fresh eggs.
However, if words aren’t enough to explain their goodness, we can share with you a few tips and some supertried and tested recipes to bring a perfect main course to the table. But let’s start from the beginning.
Pappardelle noodles, the history of Tuscan pasta
Tagliatelle are to Emilia Romagna just like pappardelle are to Tuscany. As the name suggests, pappardelle come from the typical Tuscan word “pappare”, which means to eat with relish.
Pappardelle’s date of birth isn’t clear, but we are able to say with some certainty that they were already regularly consumed during Medieval times in Tuscany.
Boccaccio mentions them in the Decameron, coincidentally while describing the land of Cockaigne. In fact, if we have to think of a bonanza of a dish, pappardelle noodles are on top of our list.
In the sixteenth century a cook named Domenico Romolo - “Il Panunto” was his nickname - inserts them in his cookbook “La singolar dottrina”. He also comes up with the recipe for pappardelle “alla Fiorentina” soup, a complex and refined dish reserved to none other than the Roman cardinals.
Pappardelle noodles according to Pellegrino Artusi
Even Pellegrino Artusi includes fresh egg pappardelle in his cookbook “Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well” and provides us with two versions, with hare or “all’aretina” from Arezzo.
The most interesting one is the Arezzo version, although the recipe is preceded by a warning from the cook himself: “I present this not as a refined dish, but as one suitable for family cooking”.
In fact, there’s very little refinement here. First of all you need a domestic duck, then some ham and some celery, carrot and onion sautéed in butter, not in oil. Afterwards you need a big piece of spleen – veal or beef – that has to be scraped and cooked with the duck, with a final touch of tomato and nutmeg.
What’s cool about it is that the duck is served as a second course, because the cooking juices are what is used to season the pappardelle, the remaining gravy in the pan and only the chopped duck’s liver.
Let’s fast forward to the present times. How can we cook the pappardelle in a tasty but a little easier way? Here are 5 recipes to fit every taste!
Pappardelle with ragout, a Tuscan classic
That’s right, ragout remains Tuscan gourmets’ favorite seasoning. The reason is simple: fresh egg pappardelle have a rough and porous surface and the perfect length to catch the thickest sauces, ragout as well.
In the Maremma you can’t help but taste a nice dish of fresh pappardelle noodles with wild boar ragout. In Arezzo, try them with duck sauce (the so-called “nana”), even Artusi’s centre of gastronomic culture says it’s delicious. Are you around the Val di Chiana area? Then you better order some pappardelle with chianina beef ragout, the dish itself is worth the ride.
Vegan version pappardelle
We spoke about thick sauces, but don’t think that vegetables aren’t perfectly suitable for our purpose. The only important thing is to do things according to the seasonality. Eggplants in January and artichokes in July are off-limits, don’t waste your money on bland vegetables that have crossed the ocean to get on your table.
So here’s my personal fresh egg pappardelle with vegetarian sauces top4:
- Winter: pappardelle with artichokes and aged pecorino
- Spring: pappardelle with asparagus
- Summer: pappardelle with vegetarian ragout (zucchini, peppers, eggplant, fresh tomato, onion, olives, lots of basil…)
- Autumn: pappardelle with porcini mushrooms, pretty obvious.
Pappardelle with cheese
Another great way to celebrate egg pappardelle noodles. Of course you’ll need excellent cheeses and a little caution if you want to make fondues.
Here are my suggestions:
- Pappardelle with spicy PDO gorgonzola cheese and nuts
- Pappardelle dried tomatoes and PDO Provolone del Monaco cheese. I suggest to blend half of the mix into a sauce and keep the other half as bigger chunks
- Pappardelle with taleggio cheese and truffle. Probably my absolute favorite recipe for pappardelle noodles.
Pappardelle with fish
You didn’t expect this one, did you? And yet pappardelle noodles are also great with fish, especially with shellfish and seafood.
A main course you should definitely try is pappardelle noodles with shrimps and pistachio, the Bronte variety of course. While remaining in Sicily, how about some nice pappardelle noodles with swordfish, cherry tomatoes and capers?
And for seafood lovers, pappardelle noodles with mussels, clams and cockles. Make sure you take a napkin to prevent the inevitable splashes and you’re good to go.
Pappardelle au gratin
A rich and delicious dish, with a thousand variations and the great advantage of being able to prepare it well in advance.
The crispy crust that forms under the grill is simply gorgeous, even better with an abundant and enveloping sauce.
You can season your pappardelle noodles with tomato and bechamel sauce, with cooked ham and a Parmigiano Reggiano fondue, or with sausage, leeks and smoked provola cheese. Do not limit your creativity.
Whether you love the classic tastes of tradition, the freshest flavors or the most creative ideas, now you cannot say you don’t know how to cook fresh egg pappardelle anymore!