Fresh Cut Pappardelle & Spinach Together
The is something about fresh pasta that stands out to me. I’m guessing it is the egg combined with flour to make fresh pasta where only semolina flour and water are used to prepare dry pasta.
When you make fresh pasta at home or buy it in a store, it has a distinct smell and texture. It cooks fast in boiling water and a silky texture when eating. There is just something special when eating a pasta dish with fresh cut pasta.
Is Fresh Pasta Better Than Dried Pasta?
Wow, I could write an entire post on this question, but in simple terms, no. It really depends on what you are serving with each pasta.
Fresh pasta is typically served with dairy-based sauces like Alfredo sauce or Carbonara sauce. Dried pasta typically goes well with oil-based sauces like meat sauces including Penne Pasta with Genovese Sauce.
The exception to the rule is bolognese sauce and although the experts will tell you it is better with fresh egg pasta like pappardelle, I think it goes great with fresh or dried pasta.
Think egg noodles but a little thicker. Pappardelle pasta is similar to fettuccine except wider.
This flat pasta originated in Tuscany region of Italy and can be found both fresh cut or dry. I try to always have some dried papardelle in the pantry because it goes so well with leftover meat dishes.
If I want fresh, I can
- make it from scratch at home
- purchase it at my local market
- buy fresh pasta sheets and cut it myself
For this recipe I purchased some fresh pasta sheets and cut them into 1/2 inch wide strips. My pasta sheets were about 6 inch by 6 inch square and there were 6 of them.
I’m finding more and more supermarkets are selling fresh pasta sheets that can be used for fettuccine, tagliatelle, linguine or even ravioli. I can’t tell you what size you’ll find so you’ll have to figure out how much pasta you’ll think you need based on what I purchased.
I’m a huge fan of making shopping for recipes a little easier. For example, in this recipe there are lots of ingredient substitutions you can make that may save you an extra trip to the grocery store or make some of the ingredients easier to find.
Another reason to substitute ingredients is personal tastes. You may prefer kale to spinach or onion to shallot or even dried pasta to fresh. Up to you and a great way to create your own personal recipe.
- Pasta – I think this recipe is great with fresh pasta, but it may not be available so go with dried. You may not be able to find pappardelle in your market so substitute fettuccine or tagliatelle.
- Shallot – I cook with shallots a lot because they are a little more mild than onions and when minced fine, can be used in recipes raw without overpowering the flavor of the dish. But if shallots are not available, substitute onion or scallions.
- Parmesan cheese – always available but please try to stay away from the grated stuff you find in a green or red can. Who knows how long that stuff has been sitting on the supermarket shelves? You can always substitute Grana Padano cheese which is very similar to Parmesan but comes from a different area in Italy. And then there is always Pecorino Romano cheese made from sheep’s milk but very tasty.
- Spinach – If you are looking for a substitute to spinach you may want to try kale or chard but there is also collards or turnip greens too.
- Creme fraiche – one of my favorite ingredients but not always easy to find. Creme fraiche is made with pasteurized cream and has a tart, buttery flavor. You can substitute sour cream but it will be less thick an and less tangy. Mascarpone cheese is also a great alternative.
- Chili Paste – You can find chili paste in most supermarkets today but I always have a bottle of Sriracha chili sauce in my pantry to give a dish some spice of life. You may also use dried hot red pepper flakes too.
Fresh Pappardelle With Spinach and Spicy Tomato Sauce Recipe
- olive oil
- 1 shallot thinly sliced
- 3 cloves garlic finely choped
- 1 bunch fresh spinach chopped
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- chili paste to taste - optional
- 12 grape tomatoes slice in half
- salt and pepper to taste
- 6 sheets fresh pasta 6 inch x 6 inch square
- 2 tablespoons creme fraiche
- 1 ounce Parmesan cheese freshly grated
- Prep all the ingredients and bring a pot of water seasoned with a little salt to boil.
- Heat a medium sized fry or sauté pan (nonstick is preferable) over medium heat until hot. Add a drizzle of olive oil and when hot but not smoking, add the slice shallot and cook for one minute. Stir continuously so the shallot doesn't burn.
- Add the chopped garlic and cook for an additional minute, stirring frequently.
- Add the chopped spinach and cook for 2 to 3 minutes until the spinach wilts.
- Add the tomato paste and as much chili paste or Srirach chili sauce as you like, to taste. Continue cooking for another 2 minutes.
- Add the halved tomatoes and 1/2 cup of water.
- Season with salt and pepper and cook for another 3 minutes until the sauce starts to thicken. Be sure to keep stirring so nothing burns.
Cook the Pasta
- Fresh pasta cooks quickly and this pappardelle will only take around 3 minutes to cook so time it properly with vegetables.
- Reserve a 1/2 cup of pasta water for the sauce if needed and drain the pasta.
Finishing the Dish & Plating
- Add the cooked pasta to the pan of of cooked vegetables.
- Add about half the reserved pasta water to the pan to thin out the sauce. Let this all cook on medium heat for a couple of minutes while stirring to coat all the fresh pasta with sauce. If the sauce is still too thick, add a little more pasta water but don't make it too thin.
- Turn off the heat and add the creme fraiche. Stir to combine, taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
- Plate the pasta, vegetables and sauce and top with a little grated Parmesan cheese.