Pasta with Burro e Salvia

If there was one dish that we ate more than all of the others in Piemonte, it had to be Tajarin with Butter and Sage, or Tajarin al Burro e Salvia. I’ve always loved pasta with butter, but I was blown away by how much I loved the simple addition of sage to the dish. Butter and sage is now my go to topping for pasta. Although I prefer homemade tajarin, good quality dried pasta is a decent substitute when in a hurry. Here is how I make it.

Dried pasta
Butter, unsalted (2-3 tablespoons per serving)
Fresh sage, finely chopped (4-5 leaves per serving)
Grated parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat.  While the water is coming to a boil, melt the butter in a saute pan over medium heat. Be careful the butter does not brown. Once butter is melted, remove from heat and add the chopped sage.  Let the sage sit in the melted butter while you boil your pasta. Once the pasta is cooked to the desired consistency, drain and add to the melted butter and sage. Toss the pasta in the sauce and serve immediately.  Top with grated parmesan cheese and salt and pepper as desired.



Polenta with Kale and Cannellini

It was a cold and rainy night in New York. The weather called for a dinner that would be comforting and warming. My schedule called for a dinner that would be easy. Polenta fit the bill. Topping polenta with kale and cannellini is not only delicious, but easy. Here is how I do it. This recipe serves 2-3 and the ingredients are easy to double.

1 bunch of Kale (approximately 1/2 pound), rinsed and chopped, with stems removed
1 can of cannellini beans (15.5 oz.), drained and rinsed
1/2 cup of vegetable stock
1/2 cup of yellow polenta
1/4 pound of fontina cheese, grated
2-3 tablespoons of olive oil
1 bay leaf
Kosher salt, for seasoning

Start with the polenta. In a pot, combine 2 and 1/2 cups of water, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, a big pinch of salt and a bay leaf. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Add the polenta and whisk until well combined. Bring back to a boil and then reduce heat to low. Continue stirring for about 3 minutes. Cover the pot and let simmer for approximately 15 minutes, stirring frequently. Polenta should be smooth but not thick. Cover and remove from heat to keep warm.

While the polenta is simmering, heat approximately 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the chopped kale, and lightly stir to cover the greens with oil. Salt the kale, cover, and let the kale fry for 3-5 minutes, until the greens are wilted. Add the vegetable stock and the cannellini beans. Bring the liquid to a simmer and let cook for approximately 5 minutes, stirring frequently.

Once the kale and cannellini is ready, remove the bay leaf from the polenta, and add half of the grated fontina to the polenta. Stir until the cheese is melted and season with salt to taste. Pour the polenta onto a plate or into a shallow bowl. Top with the kale and cannellini beans and garnish with some of the left over shredded fontina.

We paired this dish with a 2010 Barbera from Ettore Germano in Serralunga, but can be enjoyed with any hearty red wine.

*Recipe adapted from Lidia Cooks from the Heart of Italy by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich

Uncommon Reds

Piemonte is famous for Barolo and Barbaresco. Most wine drinkers are also familiar with Barberas and Dolcettos from Piemonte. These are the most common Piemontese reds that you will find in your local wine store. Last night, I visited one of my favorite Brooklyn wine stores, Brooklyn Wine Exchange, and picked up two not so common reds from Piemonte.

If you’ve never visited Brooklyn Wine Exchange in Cobble Hill, go! They have one of the best wine selections in New York City, as well as some of the most helpful staff. Although their offerings may vary from week to week, they always have something interesting. In addition to a couple of Barberas, I picked up a 2007 Croatina and a 2010 Grignolino. You won’t find these varieties everyday, so I was excited to get home and open them up.

The Croatina was beautifully dark and had a nice fruity/floral finish. This was my favorite of the two. The Gringnolino is more delicate and has a light body. My wife preferred this wine. Both were excellent finds and delicious. Thankfully, we didn’t over imbibe and have enough left of both to carry us through the weekend.

I’m falling in love with the wines from Valli Unite. I’ve previously had both their Dolcetto and Barbera. The wines are always interesting, and so are their bottles. Look at that cork!