Wednesday, January 16, 2008



It's a sunny, brisk January day here in Chi-ville, and I have been enjoying cooking, after hitting up Stanley's Produce the other day.

braised fennel with pasta
olive oil
1/2 a large sweet onion
1 bulb fennel
salt & pepper
white wine
chopped walnuts
pasta, like linguine or another thick noodle (ha ha)

halve an onion and thinly slice it
chop the stems off the fennel bulb and remove and save the leafies
finely chop the fennel stems (the green part)
quarter the bulb and thinly slice it (similar to the onion)
chop the leafies of the fennel and put them to the side

boil some water and cook your pasta

into a dry pan on med heat, toast the walnuts until they become fragrant and set aside
in the same pan
add some nice big glugs of olive oil
over med-hi, add the chopped stems and cook for about 3 min
then add the onions and the fennel bulbs along with some salt and a tad of pepper
cook for about 8 minutes or so, then add enough glugs of wine to bathe all of the goodies
cook that until thinks are tender-crisp and the stems are no longer tough

when the pasta is about 1 min away from done, add it to the fennel and stir for about 1 min
glug some wine in if too dry
add a flourish of olive oil, fennel leafies, and walnuts, toss
and serve

I love fennel.

This would have been perfect with some aromatic Italian white. Perfect! That gives you tons of choices (NOT PINOT GRIGIO), Arneis, Favorita, Erbaluce, Tocai Friulano, Pinot Bianco, Kerner, Muller Thurgau, a dry Muscato Gaillo, or, ooo some Verdicchio. Something like that. Perfect. Italian whites (ASIDE FROM BORING PINOT GRIGIO), are so interesting, cheap, and yummy.


braised red swiss chard & tuna pasta
again inspired by the easy italian dishes, i wanted to have this with some ground turkey, but it didn't thaw in time. poo.

1 bunch swiss chard
1 can tuna
1 clove garlic
olive oil
dash of crushed red pepper
white wine
salt & pepper

capellini or similar smaller pasta

put water on to boil
chop garlic clove and add to a few tablespoons olive oil in a cold pan along with red pepper
turn heat to medium as you chop the chard
once garlic becomes very lighly browned and fragrant add chard and wilt
flake the tuna unto the chard and mix
add enough wine to bathe the chard and turn to low simmer and cover

cook pasta
when pasta is about 1 minute from done, add to chard and cook for another minute along with a flourish of fresh oil

serve with fresh graded pecorino

I would love this dish, light, a bit more savory, with something like a Falanghina or Tocai Friulano. Erbaluce would do well, as would. But I could do something crazy like Emilio Bulfon's Cividin. Yum.

But alas, I had no Italian white. Only Vietti's '04 "Perbacco" Langhe Nebbiolo staring up at me, longingly. Both of these dishes were made with and served with a domestic wine. Chehalem's 2006 Pinot Blanc. Richer styled than most Italian Pinot Bianco, with some hefty ripeness and a tad but of neutral barrel aging for some viscosity. But quite tasty. This would have done better with something a bit richer, some sort of gratin or roasted root veggies. A really tasty wine, which reminded me of some $15-20 Bourgogne Blancs. Really cool, and I appreciate what Chehalem is doing (especially with riesling), except for letting the alcohol in their (previously lovely) INOX Chard to get out of control. Even when things aren't perfect, it's fun.

Drink wierd, yo.


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