One of the best things about living in Seattle (and a big part of the reason I ended up here) is that I live in the same city as my best friend from high school, Gloria. This year I was so excited because after eight years of living in different cities and sometimes countries, I finally got to celebrate her birthday with her! So in an attempt to make up for so many belated birthday cards, I orchestrated a surprise birthday party,
On the day of the party everything was all set. I’d been prepping for days, the salad was ready, the charcuterie board prepared, the vegetable sides warming in the oven, and I was preparing a my favorite spring pasta dish that I am sure will knock everyone’s socks off.
Suddenly the guests are arriving, I keep on yelling at Michael to pour them wine, meanwhile I’m tossing my sauce with my pasta and it is simply crumbling. The sauce is getting clumpy and the noodles are breaking! I’m panicking because a stream of friends and strangers are pouring through my door, the birthday girl is due any moment and my pasta (my main dish!) is falling flat. I was so confused because I’d made this dish hundreds of times before, each time it had been this luscious cream sauce studded with flavorful vegetables that clung perfectly to the pasta strands, what had gone wrong?
Gloria’s Mom, who lived in Italy for many years, took one look at the disaster and declared “It will still taste fine, you just used the wrong pasta for that sauce.”
Oh. I hadn’t taken into account the pasta sauce combo. Every other time I’d made this dish I’d used a fettucine noodle, but for some reason this time I had grabbed angel hair pasta thinking that it was fancier? The heavy sauce had caused the anger hair pasta to break apart.
While I can’t say I salvaged the pasta for the party, I did learn an important lesson about Italian cuisine and pasta pairing. Luckily I’d already made so many side dishes none of the guests even missed the main (possibly due to excessive amounts of champagne) and the party was a success. Whew.
The week after the party I made a redemption dish of this pasta, using the correct fettucine, and it was delicious, not a broken pasta in sight. This is one of my favorite ways to use up fresh spring produce, especially asparagus! You can really use any veggies here, peas and spring onions would work wonderfully. Any type of mushroom will work as well, morels are the true kings of spring, but I couldn’t find any at the market so I used baby bella mushrooms and they were delicious, particularly after a dousing of white wine. You can really use any vegetables, just use fettucine pasta!
2 tbsp butter
1 package of fettucine (whole wheat works well here!)
10 mushrooms, sliced (baby bella, cremini, or morel)
1 small bunch asparagus
fresh spring greens such as spinach, chard, or mustard greens
2 large cloves of garlic (minced)
splash of white wine (about 1/4 cup)
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- Prepare pasta according to package instructions, reserve 1/4 cup pasta water when draining, set pasta aside.
- In a sauce pan melt the butter and add in mushrooms and a pinch of salt.
- Sautee for about five minutes, stirring frequently.
- Add a splash of wine (it should sizzle a bit) allow it to cook down a for about three minutes.
- Add in garlic and asparagus and cook for another minute or two.
- Add in greens and heavy cream and sautee for a few more minutes.
- Finish with parmesan, olive oil, and a generous crack of salt and pepper.
- Add extra pasta water to thin sauce if desired.
- Toss well, and serve warm.