Recipe Courtesy: Chef Michael Chiarello, 2011
Serves 4 as main course or 8 as first course
1 1/2 pounds rapini or broccoli rabe 1 pound spaghettini 1 750-ml red wine, preferably zinfandel 1 tablespoon sugar 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil 2 tablespoons sliced garlic (about 4 medium cloves) 1 teaspoon Calabrian chili paste 1 teaspoon kosher salt or sea salt, preferably gray salt 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano
Bring an 8-quart pot of salted water to a boil, cook the rapini for about 3 minutes, and then transfer to a sheet tray and spread it out to cool. Using the same water, cook the spaghettini for half the normal time, stirring occasionally, for 3 to 5 minutes. You'll do the second half of the cooking in the zinfandel. Reserve one cup of the pasta water and then drain the pasta in a colander and set it aside. Return the empty pasta pot to the stove. You'll sauté the garlic at the same time that you finish cooking the pasta in wine.
Pour the wine and the sugar into the drained pasta pot and boil vigorously over high heat to reduce 50 percent, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the spaghettini to the pot and shake the pot to prevent the pasta from sticking. Gently stir with tongs until coated and boil over high heat, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid is absorbed, about 6 minutes (pasta will be al dente).
While the pasta cooks in the wine, heat a large deep skillet until hot. Pour in the olive oil. When the oil is hot, reduce the heat to medium-low and add the garlic. Cook until the garlic is pale golden, about 3 minutes. When the garlic is golden, add the chili paste and the blanched rapini to the skillet, add salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally for 1 to 2 minutes. Pour in 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta water. Add the garlic, chili paste, and blanched rapini to the purple spaghettini, toss gently, and transfer onto individual plates or one big platter. Finish with grated pecorino cheese.