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the sweet scoop
Pasta and wine go hand-in-hand, but pasta in wine? This I had to try.
Chef Michael Chiarello celebrates the flavors of the West Coast in his new cookbook, Bottega, named after his latest Napa Valley restaurant. In his Zinfandel Spaghetti recipe, strings of pasta are simmered in red wine before being paired with broccoli rabe. Chiarello’s wine-steeping technique is so simple, yet adds to the flavor complexity of the dish (a delicate balance of salty, sweet, bitter & hearty) and really lets the essence of Napa shine—plus the deep purplish-reddish hue that the drunken strands take on is so striking!
I won’t typically post another person’s recipe as-is, since I like to whip up my own, but after diving into this wine-laden pasta, I wanted to share the love. I added a dash more red pepper flakes than called for since I like some heat, but as it stands, this dish is perfectly balanced, refined and was a beauty on my table.
Tip: Be sure to pick up two bottles of vino—one for the pasta and the other for drinking with dinner. The spaghetti can’t have all the fun! Salute!
Zinfandel Spaghetti (makes 4 to 6 servings)
Recipe adapted from Michael Chiarello’s Bottega (Chronicle Books)
1. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the rapini and cook for 3 minutes or until just tender. Transfer the rapini to a baking sheet and let cool. In the same boiling water, cook the spaghetti, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. (The pasta will finish cooking in the Zinfandel.) Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water and then drain the pasta and set it aside. Return the empty pasta pot to the stove.
2. Add the wine and sugar to the pasta pot. Bring to a boil over high heat and cook until reduced by half, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add the pasta and shake to prevent the pasta from sticking. Gently stir with tongs until coated and boil over high heat, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid is absorbed and the pasta is al dente, about 4 to 5 minutes.
3. While the pasta cooks in the wine, heat a large, deep skillet over high heat. Add the olive oil, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook the garlic until golden, about 3 minutes. Add the rapini, red-pepper flakes, salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes. Add ½ cup of the reserved pasta water, or more if desired, and stir to combine.
4. Add the rapini mixture to the pasta pot, toss gently and transfer to a platter. Sprinkle with the cheese and serve.
If anybody ventures to makes this Zinfandel Spaghetti, let me know what you think!