I first tasted this dish with the Lancellotti family in Soliera, outside Modena. Their restaurant, Ristorante Lancellotti, was closed to celebrate the birthday of Ida Lancellotti, the family matriarch. When Angelo, the eldest son, brought it to the table, its buttery, herbal aroma preceded it. With the first mouthful I was won over by its simply fresh and subtle taste.
This dish is meaningful to the Lancellottis because it was one of the first Angelo created for the restaurant, which signaled its departure from the traditional cuisine his parents had always prepared. Diners accustomed to pasta dressed with ragùs, beans, or other traditional sauces at first thought it odd, but it has since become a signature favorite. I could have made a meal of it and almost did, for Camillo served me seconds while my head was turned. Oh well, I thought as I picked up my fork again, there are definitely worse things in life than this.
Serve a slightly spritzy Lambrusco di Sorbara alongside.