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Pasta Al Vino Bianco

This is a variation of recipe I’ve been cooking occasionally for a while, but last week I made it again with a few variations that really just made it spectacular, so I needed to write it up. You will notice that a lot of these numbers are not as precise as I might like, that’s because I was really just winging this recipe, substituing ingredients I didn’t have on-the-fly. Regardless, it was a big hit.

The original recipe I followed is quite good, and I still recommend it, but it’s a bit more work than the new recipe I discovered due to not having all the original ingredients around, and I was forced to improvise. The new one, I think, was even better than the original!

Ingredients

  • Olive Oil
  • 150g (or more) Pancetta
  • 2 Red Chilis (chopped) (I used chilis from this plant)
  • 2 Garlic Cloves
  • Cheap Bottle of Dry White Wine
  • Fresh Pasta (I used Waitrose Fusilli, but it should work with other pasta types)
  • Double Cream (single cream would probably work just as well)
  • Bag of Spinach
  • Parmesan Cheese

Method

  1. Add 1 tbsp olive oil to large sauce pan or wok, and let it get hot over medium-high heat, then add the pancetta and let it cook til crisp. Remove pancetta with a slotted spoon into a bowl, leaving the oils behind.
  2. Press garlic to the hot oils and add chopped chilis. Saute for a couple of minutes until garlic begins to brown.
  3. Add about a third of the bottle of wine to the oil/spice mixture and let it reduce down for 5-10 minutes minutes.
  4. Reduce heat to medium, then add the fresh pasta to the pan followed by the next third of the bottle of wine. The goal is to get the pasta to “al dente” in about 8 minutes. Stir to ensure that all pasta gets cooked similarly, and add a bit more wine if its going to dry out too early. It will depend on exactly how much pasta you have, but don’t be afraid to keep it wet until it’s about time. If needed, you can add water as well.
  5. Add about 100ml of the cream and stir to cover all the pasta. Next, add alllll of the spinach. It will seem that you have a ridiculous amount of spinach compared to everything else, but trust that it will wilt and reduce significantly from the volume you add. Dump in the last of the wine or water to give some liquid and then cover over medium heat for just a couple of minutes until the spinach reduces down.
  6. Add about half the parmesan to the pan and stir it in, then dump in the pancetta and stir it all together before serving with the balance of the parmesan for presentation or for people to add on their own.

Variations

This recipe itself is a grand variation on the original, and I suspect that the basics here can be used in any combination with the original that you fancy. In particular:

  • you can use arugula instead of spinach
  • you can add toasted pine nuts, that can’t hurt
  • you can use dry pasta, perhaps pre-cooking it for a few minutes in water first
  • you can use red pepper instead of the chilis
  • you can use bacon cooked til crispy instead of pancetta