It's no secret that wine and pasta are a natural pair, but this recipe from Michael Chiarello's Bottega marks the first time I've cooked pasta with a whole bottle of wine. The pasta is first partly cooked in boiling water, before being drained and finished off in some Zinfandel. As you can tell from the photo, the result is particularly dramatic.
Each strand is dyed a gorgeous ruby red. The flavor isn't quite as shocking as it looks, but it has a pleasing earthiness that pairs well with the rapini.
The rapini is also blanched first and then spread out on a baking sheet to cool. Later on it's sautéed with garlic and red pepper flakes, which explains the "spicy" label in the recipe title.
The best part? This vivid and colorful dish isn't nearly as difficult to prepare as it looks. Whether or not you decide to share that information with your dining companions is up to you.
- Yield:serves 4
- Active time: 30 minutes
- Total time:30 minutes
- 1 1/2 pounds rapini (broccoli rabe), thick stems removed
- 1 pound spaghetti
- one 750-ml bottle Zinfandel (or other dry red wine)
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 garlic cloves, sliced
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup grated Pecorino-Romano
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the rapini and cook until bright green and tender, about three minutes. Remove with a wire skimmer, and spread the rapini out on a large baking sheet.
Bring the water back to a boil and then add the spaghetti. Cook spaghetti until tender but still a few minutes away from al dente, five to six minutes. (You'll finish cooking the pasta later.) Reserve a cup of the cooking liquid, and then drain the pasta in a colander. Set the now empty pot back on stovetop.
Add the wine and sugar to the pot, and bring to a boil over high heat. Cook until reduced by half, about eight minutes. Add the drained pasta, and stir well. Cook until most of the liquid has evaporated, stirring very often to prevent the pasta from sticking, four to five minutes.
Meanwhile, pour the olive oil into a large skillet set over high heat. When oil starts to shimmer, and the garlic and immediately reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook until garlic becomes pale golden brown, about three minutes. Add the red pepper flakes, rapini, salt, and pepper. Cook until rapini is warm, one to two minutes.
Add the rapini mixture to the pasta along with 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta water. Gently toss to combine. If the pasta looks dry, add more of the pasta water. If ready, divide the pasta between four plates and garnish with the grated pecorino.