Papardelles aux Patates Douces, Saffron, et Romarin (Papardelle with Sweet Potato, Saffron, and Rosemary)

As happened last year, Europe is once again in shambles with the onslaught of snow and stormy weather, conditions to which the airports in Paris, London, Gatwick, and Roissy are not accustomed to.  I know I got lucky: I left Paris on Friday afternoon and made it home-free to San Antonio, Texas, where I'm spending Christmas with a handful of other family members.  I know there are many other travellers who, like myself, are hoping to make it safe and sound back to their loved ones, so I am writing this post for you in the hopes that you make it.

While packing for my trip and worrying about my 18-hour travel day, I decided to make this pasta which involves sweet potatoes in puree form.  Sweet potatoes are exactly what their name suggests, sweeter versions of their more common and starchier potato cousin, and they are wonderful consumed in many different ways.  Although I normally eat them in wedge-form with a honey-mustard dipping sauce, I decided to stray from the norm this time and try something I have been interested in for a while, which is using sweet potato as a pasta sauce.

After making the first stop on Rue Montorgueil in the 2nd arrondissement to pick up the sweet potato, I headed over to one of the numerous Italian traiteurs (essentially an Italian gourmet grocer and deli) to pick up my papardelle.  I also used this stop as an occasion to practice my nearly non-existent Italian, which I present to the vendor with confidence and a smile - this doesn't get me far, as they always respond to me in French. Pick up my tagliatelle, and make my last stop before heading home: Nicolas, one of Paris' largest wine caves,which has numerous stores around the city and whose salepeople can always point a less-than-perfect wine connoisseur in the right direction.  I explained to the store clerk what kind of pasta I would be making this evening, and he recommended several light red wines from the Burgundy and Bordeaux regions of France.  In case you didn't guess already, the main reason why I decided to go with this one is because of the lovely cherub on the wine label, in addition to its name, the Saint of Love - how could a young woman refuse?

The pasta is relatively straightfoward and easy to make.  Cooking the sweet potato over the stove prevents you from having to use a food processor, because it gets so soft you can just mash it with a fork.  I also like the chunky consistency it produces; however, if you want an extremely smooth sauce, you can certainly process it.  If you decide to use the saffron (which enriches the color and enhances the aroma), I suggest using whole threads, and crushing them as finely as possible in order to dilute them well in the water.  Happy holidays from Texas - take some time to relax and cook for yourself, you certainly deserve it!

Papardelle aux Patates Douces, Saffron, et Romarin - serves 1

1 tablespoon sunflower oil
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cut into chunks
Enough papardelle for one person (about 4 ounces/110 grams)
1/2 teaspoon crushed safrron, dissolved in 1 tablespoon warm water (optional)
1/2-cup cream or milk
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
3-4 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan

1. Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Add sweet potato pieces, cover the skillet, and cook, stirring occasionally, until sweet potato can be easily pierced through with a fork, about 25-30 minutes.
2.  Once ready, remove sweet potato pieces from saute pan (leave the skillet on the stove, you will reuse it later) and mash with the back of a fork until you have a puree.  Season with salt and pepper.
3.  Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta according to package instructions.
4.  Meanwhile, return sweet potato puree to the skillet and reheat over medium-low heat.  Stir in milk until blended.
5.  Stir in saffron, rosemary, and parmesan.  Add tagliatelle and toss to combine.  Adjust seasoning to taste, serve immediately.

Wine pairing: a light red, such as a Burgundy or a pinot noir from California (I drank a 2008 Saint Amour Domaine des Billards)


Eliza said...

I can't wait to make this. I'm making a big batch of potato, sausage, and spinach soup to freeze tonight. Tomorrow, I think I will pop into the store for pasta.

Chief said...

I love sweet potato and this recipe is very appealing. I just don't know what Tagliatelle is..

I enjoy reading your blog..

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