Friday, October 15, 2010

Pasta for comfort

Friday nights are all about comfort food. By the time I get home, I don't have enough time or energy to do much, but I need to make something that satisfies and fortifies. Tonight I came home to a big bunch of broccoli rabe from the farm share and the memory of a pasta dish that I had at one of the more upscale Italian restaurants in the area.  This was my chance to try to recreate it.

While the pasta water came up to a boil, I toasted pine nuts and soaked some golden raisins.Then I sauteed 3 or 4 small cloves of garlic in olive oil. I coarsely shredded the rabe and added it to the skillet with the garlic. I let it cook down for a little while and then added a splash of balsamic vinegar, a little chicken stock, a few cranks of the pepper mill, along with the raisins and their soak liquid and let that simmer to bring the flavors together. When the penne was just about finished, I drained it and added it to the skillet. I threw the pine nuts over the top and folded it all together, letting the pasta absorb most of the remaining liquid in the skillet. I served it with lots of fresh Parmigiano Reggiano and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

This dish is so easy to throw together and it's incredibly satisfying. The pungent flavor of the garlic and the slight bitterness of the rabe blend perfectly with the woodsy taste of the pine nuts and the sunny sweetness of the raisins. Served with a glass of Spanish red, some good rustic bread, and the last of the garden's tomatoes, it was a perfect way to end the day.