There’s no rule that pasta has to be used in a savory way in a dish.
Inspired by the recipe on the label of some sweet potato pappardelle that I bought from Flour City Pasta at the Troy Farmers Market, I decided to go with the flow and play to the sweetness of the sweet potato in the pasta.
The only thing was that the recipe called for grano padano cheese, and I didn’t have any. Luckily, I had just made a trip to visit my parents, and my father graciously donated the scamorza you see on the left in the above image. Scamorza is a drier and slightly sweeter cousin to mozzarella.
So, for the pasta, you need 1/2 cup of brown sugar, 1 stick of butter (it’s not particularly healthful), 1/3 cup of chopped walnuts, 1 cup of shredded scamorza, and 1 pound of sweet potato pappardelle.
While the pasta is boiling (in salted water, of course),
melt the butter and brown sugar over a medium low heat. Add the walnuts.
If the pasta isn’t ready by this point, pull this off the heat before it burns.
Lightly drain the pasta and add it to the pan containing the sweet and nutty goodness. Toss it together and incorporate the shredded scamorza.
Plate it up and add some more scamorza to finish the dish.
What you will have is a slightly sweet, slightly savory dish that would work great as a starter or as a post main plate and pre dessert course. The brown sugar and butter form a light caramel that coats the noodles, and the cheese cuts the sweetness with a good hit of fat and salt. The toasted walnuts add a textural crunch that puts the dish over the top.
Do you have to use sweet potato pappardelle? Stupid question. Answer – No. Use what you have. Pasta is more-or-less neutral, so you can manipulate the flavor however you wish. I don’t mean you can just mix it with maple syrup, Pop Tarts, marshmallows, M & Ms and chocolate syrup and expect it to be good.
I would stick with a long noodle and, preferably, a thick noodle too. Spaghetti would work, but it’s pushing it. (Think about the cheese that’s going to hold the pasta together and how it would make a tangled mess with anything spaghetti or thinner.) Pappardelle, fettucine, or tagliatelle (which is great because you can go to the store and buy fresh pasta sheets and cut your own) seem like the most reasonable cuts to me.
But, I always say, “do what you want.” There are a million ways to arrive at a great meal, and I can’t possibly think of every single one here!