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Serves 4 as a main course or 8 as a first course
In the original version of this pasta from Chef Chiarello, he uses broccoli rabe as his green and Zinfandel wine. We adapted a few changes (which you will find we tend to do a lot) to make it more for our family's liking. We've embellished a bit with a bolder wine for extra flavor, and we substitute either spinach, broccoli or any greens you may have on hand. It’s a wonderfully simple pasta that doesn’t take long to make, and yet the flavors are simply irresistible.
1-3/4 pounds broccoli or one bag of fresh spinach (or any greens)
1 pound thin spaghetti
1 bottle red wine (750-ml) – I use Carpineto Dogajolo Toscano Rosso
1 teaspoon sugar
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped (2 tablespoons)
1 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
If you are using broccoli, bring a pot of water to a boil. Add the broccoli and cook 5 minutes.
Remove the broccoli from the pot with a slotted spoon and then use the cooking water for the pasta.
If you are using spinach, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the spaghetti and cook, stirring occasionally, 4 minutes (pasta will not be fully cooked). Reserve one cup of pasta water and drain pasta in colander. Leave the pasta in the colander. Add bottle of wine and the sugar to a pot and boil vigorously 2 minutes, long enough for the alcohol to boil out. Add spaghetti back to the pot of wine and stir with a fork to prevent pasta from sticking. Gently stir until all the pasta is coated. Continue to boil over medium to high heat, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid is absorbed, about 6 minutes (pasta will be al dente).
While spaghetti is cooking in the wine mixture, sauté garlic and red pepper flakes in olive oil in a large, deep skillet over moderately low heat, shaking skillet occasionally, until garlic is pale golden, about 5 minutes. Add the fresh greens (or broccoli), salt and pepper and cook, stirring 1 – 2 minutes. Add 1/2 cup of reserved pasta water.
Pour the spaghetti mixture into the skillet and carefully toss with tongs to combine (skillet will be very full). Cook while stirring, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat, season with freshly ground black pepper and drizzle with a bit of olive oil. Stir in the grated cheese. Serve immediately.
It can easily be made when you get home from work and crave the comfort of a homemade pasta dish. Simple but elegant! The alcohol from the wine cooks out and you are left with delicious, robust flavored pasta. Who would have thought it would become our 12 year old nephews favorite requests when he stays with us!