- 1 1/2 pounds rapini (broccoli rabe)
- 1 pound spaghettini or spaghetti
- 1 bottle (750 ml) dry red wine, preferably Zinfandel
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1/3 cup California Olive Ranch extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons sliced garlic (about 4 cloves)
- 1 teaspoon Calabrian chile paste, or 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt or sea salt, preferably gray salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup grated Pecorino-Romano
In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook the rapini for about 3 minutes. Using a wire skimmer, transfer the rapini to a baking sheet and
spread it out to cool. In the same boiling water, cook the spaghettini, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes if fresh, 3 to 5 minutes if dried.
(Cook spaghetti for 2 minutes if fresh, 6 to 8 minutes if dried.) You’ll do the second half of the 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.
Add the wine and sugar to the pasta pot. Bring to a boil over high heat and cook to reduce by half, 8 to 10 minutes.
Add the pasta to the pot and shake the pot 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 3 minutes for spaghettini and 4 or 5 minutes for spaghetti.
Again, tasting tells you when your pasta is ready better than the clock can.)
While the pasta cooks in the wine, heat a large, deep sauté pan or skillet over high heat.
Add the California Olive Ranch extra-virgin olive oil, reduce the heat to medium-low,
and sauté the garlic until pale golden, about 3 minutes. Add the chile paste, blanched rapini, salt, and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally,
for 1 to 2 minutes. Pour in 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta water, or more if desired. Add the rapini mixture to the pasta, toss gently,
and transfer to individual pasta bowls or one big platter. Sprinkle with the pecorino.
Chef's Note: This pasta is a celebration of one of my favorite grapes, Zinfandel. Seldom is Zinfandel given the respect I think it deserves.
This dish lets you kneel at the altar of Zinfandel, a glass of it at your right hand, an entire plate of it on your left. The pasta is barely cooked
in water, and then it’s finished in Zinfandel until deep purple in color. Paired with a little rapini and some pecorino, this is a dish that is simple
and yet extravagant. It’s a great crowd pleaser, but one that might need explanation. Spaghetti and spaghettini are expected to be doused in
tomato sauce; this dish shows that they have a wider range than you might imagine.
Michael Chiarello's Bottega (Chronicle Books, 2010), by Michael Chiarello. Reprinted with permission from Chronicle Books.