Monday, June 20, 2011

Sorrel Fettuccine with English Peas, Hazelnuts, and Brown Butter

I love green pastas, so I decided to experiment with using sorrel instead of the more traditional spinach. It gives the pasta a subtle lemony flavor that I enhanced with a little more lemon zest.

This dish is a variation on a pretty traditional pasta dish with brown butter, peas, sage, and prosciutto. I used hazelnuts because they emphasize the nutty flavor of the brown butter, and added chives because of how well they complement sorrel.

Try adding morels to the mix. I didn't have any, but I wish I had--I think they would have rounded out the flavors and textures nicely.

Sorrel Fettuccine with English Peas, Hazelnuts, and Brown Butter

1 bunch sorrel
9 ounces flour (about 2 cups)
1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 eggs
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 tablespoons water

2 cups English peas
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 stick butter
1/3 cup hazelnuts, crushed in a mortar and pestle
2 tablespoons sage, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons chives, coarsely chopped
freshly ground pepper

For the pasta: In a food processor, blend the sorrel, salt, lemon zest, and the flour until the sorrel is finely ground and the flour is green. Add the eggs and olive oil, then process for about 10 seconds or until it begins to look like coarse cornmeal (except green, of course). Add the water, and continue to process until the dough bounces into a ball. Add a little more water if the dough is too dry. Take the dough out and put it on a layer of plastic wrap. Wrap it up and let it rest for 15 minutes. Divide the dough into thirds, and roll it out in a pasta maker to the second- or third-thinnest level. Before the last round through the pasta maker, dust each sheet with rice flour and cut it in half if it is too long. Cut each sheet into fettuccine, then hang them to dry out a little.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. While it's heating, melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Keep cooking the butter until the foam subsides and it reaches a golden-brown hue. Remove the pan from the heat and add the more finely ground hazelnuts and the sage. It will sizzle a bit and then calm down. Set this aside.

Place the peas in a strainer. When the pot of water is boiling, dip the strainer into the water so that the peas cook for about 2 minutes, or until tender. Lift the peas out and drain.

Carefully drop the pasta into the water. Cook for about 3 minutes, depending on the thickness of the pasta, and then drain in a colander. Leaving some moisture on the pasta, transfer it to the pot of butter. Add the lemon juice and gently toss everything together to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve, topping each dish of pasta with plenty and peas, some of the remaining hazelnuts, and a sprinkling of chives.


  1. Katie - This is Curtis Bailey, your first cousin once removed. I received the heads up about your blog from your dad and I must say that it is very well done!
    In Virginia Beach, we have local May peas available from May-June which I generally steam. I would have to grow some sorrel as I am not sure where I could get some fresh. Actually I am not sure that I've tasted sorrel although Wikipedia says that it has a kiwi fruit or wild strawberry bitterness, the result of oxalic acid which in large quantities can be fatal. So don't eat pounds of sorrel for dinner. My point is that getting the good green color of the pasta can be done by incorporating other greens into the flour, but how do you get the bittersweet without the sorrel?
    Anyway your recipe collection is awesome and I am sure that should you choose to do so, you could certainly return to work behind the swinging doors of some restaurant and write yourself some cookbooks.
    Curtis Bailey

  2. Wow homemade pasta! I've never made pasta and this must be so delicious! I love the combination of ingredients here, and hazelnuts, that's interesting! Looks delicious and healthy. Very nice recipe! :-)

  3. You really need to open your own restaurant - every recipe is so unique and has me drooling!

  4. Curtis sorrel can be hard to find in stores, but if you have access to it then don't worry about the oxalic acid. Sorrel has less oxalic acid by percent dry weight than spinach or rhubarb, both of which are safe to eat in fairly large quantities.