Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Drunken Tuscan Pasta

This recipe was taken from Rachel Ray's 'Express Lane Meals' cookbook. I have made a few modifications, just to suit my personal taste better. I wasn't sure my husband would be thrilled with it, because he's not a huge fan of mushrooms, but surprisingly he loved this dish. I love the subtle flavor added by the nutmeg! Look how pretty the pasta is after cooking in the wine-filled water! Cooking pasta in wine (be sure to fill the rest of the pan with water though...I tried to just cook pasta in wine once and it was too strong...just...yuck!) adds great flavor that isn't too strong, but really adds to a dish. I joke that I'd like to change the name of this dish to 'Plastered Pasta'.

Drunken Tuscan Pasta

1 bottle Tuscan red table wine (I used Chianti--thanks Annie & Greg)
Kosher salt
1 lb. Fettucine Rigate (or regular fettucine if you can't fine the Rigate)
3 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 lb. sliced pancetta, chopped
1 lb. baby portobello mushrooms, sliced
3 sprigs fresh rosemary, minced
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
Red pepper flakes (pinch, to taste)
1 bag/box fresh baby spinach (about 4 oz.)
Fresh-ground black pepper, to taste
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
Parmesan cheese, grated
Handful of pine nuts (you can toast these in a dry skillet; in this case I was in a hurry and did not)

Pour bottle of wine (minus one glass for the chef, of course) into a pasta pot. Fill the rest of the way with water and bring to a boil over high heat. When the water/wine boils, add pasta and a few pinches of salt. Cook as directed on pasta package to al dente. Please note you will be using some of the pasta liquid for the sauce later.

Heat a large skillet (I used my stainless wok) and add 2 tbsp. olive oil. Add the chopped pancetta. Cook until browned, stirring constantly, then place on paper-towel lined plate. Toss mushrooms into oil left in the pan, and add rosemary. Cook mushrooms until golden brown (about 5 minutes). Move mushrooms to the sides of the skillet, and put 1 tbsp. olive oil, garlic and a couple pinches each of red pepper flakes and salt to the center. Stir to cook newly added ingredients, then mix together with the mushrooms. Add the spinach to the pan and season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Allow greens to wilt, then add a couple ladles of cooking water/wine. Stir all ingredients together and allow liquid to reduce.

Drain the pasta well and add it, the pancetta and pine nuts to the skillet. Mix together, top with Parmesan to taste and serve.

Serve with rustic bread. For dipping, mix olive oil, red pepper flakes, a few drops of balsalmic vinegar, some crushed garlic cloves. This is better if you let it sit a little while to allow the flavors to blend. All bread dipping oil ingredients are to taste. You know what tastes good!!!

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