You’ve got to love a mid-week meal when the guests show up with a treasure from the cellar.  Last night’s dinner featured just such an attraction and the food was up to the task.
I started with an antipasto of Escarole & Beans.  So simple, so amazingly delicious, you simply must try it.
Authentic Escarole & Beans
2 bunches escarole
6 oz. diced pancetta
6 garlic cloves, sliced
1 can cannellini beans, drained, but not rinsed.
Extra virgin olive oil
Sale e Pepe, to taste
Crushed red pepper flakes, to taste
Trim the ends off the escarole, separate the leaves, and soak in the kitchen sink for as long as possible. The longer you an do this, the cleaner they’ll be and the better the end product is.  Escarole is filthy, and it takes some time to get the sand off.  I soaked these all day yesterday while I was at work.   Remove the escarol to a dish towel and let drip dry, but don’t spin dry and don’t press them dry. This is key.  You want the leaves to still be wet. 
Saute the garlic and pancetta in a heavy bottomed pot until softened and you’ve rendered the fat from the pancetta. Add salt and pepper, and crushed red pepper to taste. Then set the flame to low, add the wet escarole, cover, and leave it alone for about 15 minutes. At that time, uncover, add the beans, check seasoning and simmer for 5-8  minutes longer.  It’ll be done by then, and look like this! 

Escarole & Beans with Pancetta
During the 20 minutes while the Escarole was simmering, I made the condimento for the Tortellini which I had decided to do in the Roman fashion of Amatriciana.  
Tortellini all’Amatriciana
1 pound tortellini
1 28oz. can San Marzano Tomatoes, chopped
1 onion, sliced
1 6oz. package of diced pancetta
3 cloves garlic, sliced
Sale e Pepe
Extra virgin olive oil
Saute the garlic, onions, and pancetta in some olive oil until softened. Add salt and pepper.  Once soft, add the can of tomatoes and let simmer about 15 minutes on medium heat until the tomatoes begin to thicken. San Marzano’s are so good, they don’t need to be cooked too much to develop flavor. I love using them in quick sauces like this because they are never sour.  Here are a few pictures I snapped along the way….

Pancetta & Garlic softening in the pan

The finished Amatriciana, waiting for the pasta
As the sauce is nearing completion, get your water boiling and cook the tortellini.  They will cook quickly, so make sure your condimento is ready to go.  Add the tortellini into the pot and stir to coat. Let them sit there and absorb some of the sauce while you chiffonade some basil for the final touch! 

Tortellini all’Amatriciana

With this, we had the 2001 Antinori Tignanello.  Tignanello comes from the single vineyard of the same name, on the Antinori Santa Cristina estate in the heart of Chianti Classico. It is the wine that pioneered the Super Tuscan spirit, being the first that “broke the rules” of the traditional chianti blending laws, and thus created an entire new category of wine. Tignanello is 80% Sangiovese, and 20% Cabernet and this 2001 version was stunning.  Belying it’s 11 year age, the wine is black in the decanter.  Noticeable aromas of tobacco, leather, dried herbs, and crushed wild berries are prominent. In the mouth, the wine is full bodied, ripe, round and concentrated with floral, leather, tobacco and mushroom accents to the ripe crushed black fruits flavors. It’s still quite chewy and could easily withstand further cellaring. Balanced, and more voluptuous than elegant, it is a powerful Sangiovese and simply delicious.  95 points, about $40 upon release. 

2001 Antinori Tignanello: 80% Sangiovese, 20% Cabernet
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