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Pappardelle with Zucchini Blossom Sauce

(Serves 2)
Pappardelle with Zucchini Blossom Sauce

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
1 medium carrot, finely chopped
1 stalk of celery, finely chopped
1 large garlic clove, minced
Pinch of saffron
2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 egg yolk
12 zucchini blossoms, stem ends and stamens removed, cut in half lengthwise
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
8 ounces papparedelle (or similar size) pasta
Grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano, to serve

Fresh Pappardelle Ingredients:
3/4 cup flour
2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 to 1/3 cup water


To make pappardelle:
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix by hand or in a food processor.
Shape into a smooth ball, cover and allow to rest for 10-15 minutes.
Roll out the dough to a thickness of #6 on a manual or electric pasta machine.
Hand cut the strips of dough into 1-inch wide noodles.

Fresh pasta only takes a couple of minutes to cook, so add it to boiling salted water when your sauce is almost done.  Reserve some of the cooking water before you drain it.

To make the sauce:
Heat the olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter in a large skillet over medium heat.
Add the onion and saute for about 5 minutes or until it starts to brown.
Add the carrots, celery and garlic.  Add the saffron and a pinch of salt; continue sautéing for another 2-3 minutes. Raise the heat to medium-high and add 1 up of the broth.  Add the liquid to reduce to about half and then add the remaining broth.  Continue cooking, stirring often, until about 3/4 of the liquid has evaporated.  Reduce the heat to medium.

In a small bowl, whisk the egg yolk with about 3 tablespoons of the pasta cooking water.  Pour the egg mixture into the sauce in the skillet; stir well to combine.

Stir in the zucchini blossoms, parsley and remaining tablespoon of butter.  Add the drained pappardelle to the skillet and toss gently to combine with the sauce. If the sauce seems too thick, add some of the reserved pasta cooking water to loosen it.  Serve topped with grated cheese.
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Zucchini blossoms (also called squash blossoms) are the edible flowers of a zucchini or other squash plants.  The blossoms are highly perishable so they are rarely available in supermarkets.
You can harvest them from your own garden zucchini plants or sometimes find them at farmer's markets.  The flowers are soft and delicate and have a subtle flavor of the zucchini itself.  Most often seen battered and fried in Italian recipes, they can also be eaten raw in salads or added to eggs, soups or, as in this recipe, made into a delicious pasta sauce.  The delicate flavor of the blossoms goes perfectly with a fresh pasta such as pappardelle but any similar sized dry pasta would work equally as well.
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Pappardelle are consumed all over Italy and are part of the long, flat pasta family. They are excellent when prepared with sauces made from wild meat and game. They are also recommended for recipes with tomato sauce and cheese, as well as with creamy sauces, which spread well over the entire surface of the pasta.