This is a delicious recipe that is simple to make and has met with rave reviews each time I’ve prepared it.  The entire dish comes together in about as long as it takes to cook the pasta.  
Rigatoni all Giada
1 pound Rigatoni
1/2 stick butter
1 small zucchini, quartered and sliced
4 oz. pancetta
1 sweet vidalia onion
6 oz. pignoli nuts
12 cherry or campari tomatoes, halved
1 large package Arugula (16 oz)
8 tablespoons Parmigiano
Crushed red pepper to taste

In a large saute pan, sweat the onions and pancetta in the butter until the butter and the pancetta start to brown and the pancetta has rendered most of it’s fat.

~ Sweating the Pancetta & Onion ~
While that’s working, slice the zucchini and the tomatoes and have them ready to go.  I sliced the zucchini in half length wise, then in half again, and then sliced them across.  I was using Campari tomatoes, so I quartered them.  
Once the Pancetta browns,  add the pignoli nuts and saute a few minutes more until the nuts are “toasted”. 

Pine Nuts added and toasted nicely.  The nuts bring great flavor & texture to the dish. If you modify the recipe at all, this is the one ingredient I would not change
When the nuts are toasted – be careful they don’t burn – the pasta should be almost done.  Add the Arugula to the pasta in the pot.  Add the Zucchini and Tomatoes to the pan and saute until the vegetables are cooked, but firm.  No more than 3-4 minutes over medium heat.  

This is the finished “Condimento”.  Note how shapely the tomatoes are. You do not want them to cook down at all in this recipe.

Before draining the pasta, reserve 1 cup of the pasta cooking water.  Drain the pasta and Arugula to a large serving platter.  Add about 1/2 the water and toss.  Add the cheese to the platter and toss well.  
Then add the condimento to the platter, toss through and test for consistency of the sauce.  The starch in the pasta water combines with the brown butter to create an almost creamy consistency. If the dish seems too dry, you can use more of the pasta cooking water.  Add a bit at a time so it doesn’t get watery. 

~ Rigatoni all Giada, La Famiglia Style ~

The finished plate.  Pass more Parmigiano and crushed red pepper at the table. 

~ Rigatoni alla Giada ~

With this meal, I threw caution to the wind, pairing wise, and opened an amazing bottle of wine: The 2007 Tabarrini Campo alla Cerqua Sagrantino di Montefalco.
I’ve had this wine before and it continues to impress.  It’s black in the decanter and glass.  The little pour I had while cooking was both massive, expressive and delicious, even without food.  The wine is filled with aromas of blackfruit, coffee, leather, and minerals.  But on the palate, this is one of the most unique wines I’ve ever tasted.  To me, it defines Sagrantino in a way that is not replicated anywhere else in the zone – even among Tabarrini’s other Sagrantino.  The massive core of black fruits are spicy, with mineral, leather, smoke and baking spices.  It accented the pancetta in the pasta very well.  But what sets this apart, is the silky ultra powdery sensation to the palate.  It’s not just the tannins that provide this feeling, it’s as if the black fruit is coated in a sweet dusty, almost baby powder like consistency.  I completely love it.  While this wine has at least a decade ahead of it, and while I’m sure it will improve and mature with some cellar time, I simply cannot resist it right now.  96 points, about $40. 

~ Giampaolo Tabarrini is a genius ~


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