This is our favourite. In fact, that’s what we call it. Each morning, we discuss what we’ll have for dinner that night. And if we’re waffling and having difficulty deciding one of us will suddenly say, “What about our favourite?” and immediately the other will reply, “Good idea!!”
Initially, “our favourite” meant blackened chillies, ham and broccoli. Then one day, the broccoli was expensive and spindly but there was a reasonably-priced giant bunch of wonderful looking rapini. So we got that instead. And the dish was still our favourite. On another occasion, we had some double smoked Polish sausage in the fridge. So we tried using that instead of ham. It was still our favourite.
So now, when we go the vegetable store to get the ingredients for “our favourite”, we get either broccoli or rapini – whichever looks better.
I still can’t believe that there is no post about this staple of our table. We have Blackened Chillies and Broccoli (or Rapini) zillions of times a year, and yet it wasn’t until recently that we thought to get the camera out. (It was the new pasta bowls that brought out the camera. We love the new pasta bowls!)
Here’s how to make “our favourite”.
Spaghettini with Blackened Chillies and Rapini (or Broccoli)
serves two hogs
- 6 (more or less) dried red chillies, whole (do NOT pre-soak)
- a good splash of good quality olive oil
- 5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- small onion, finely chopped (optional)
- some good smoked sausage (or ham), cut coarsely into small squares
- spaghettini (enough for 2 people)
- rapini (or broccoli), chopped coarsely (enough for 2 people)
- Boiling salted water
- seasalt and pepper, to taste
- a good shot of high quality GRATED Parmesan cheese (optional)
- Pasta Sauce Heat oil in a large pan to medium hot. Add the chillies and cook them at medium heat until they are dark dark brown (this is important). Please note that they shouldn’t be burnt to a crisp, but just nicely blackened.
- Add onion, if using and the meat . Cook until the meat is quite dry.
- Add the garlic at the last minute or so of cooking the meat. This is so the garlic doesn’t burn. (There’s nothing worse than burnt garlic).
- Spaghettini Put the spaghettini in plenty of salted boiling water.
- Rapini (or broccoli) Cut the vegetable into bite size pieces and place in a wire basket (we use a deep-frying basket). Put the basket into the boiling water and cook for 2 or three minutes. Pull out the basket and set it aside as the spaghettini continues to cook.
- Continue to cook the spaghettini til al dente. Drain.
- Put it all together Over very low heat, put the drained pasta and vegetable into the frying pan with the chillies and garlic mixture. Use tongs to toss the pasta. This separates the noodles and coats each one.
- Serve the spaghettini on warmed plates, adding grated parmesan if you want.
Serve immediately, with a leafy salad on the side, if you want. (Red wine goes very nicely with this. We favour a South American Cabernet Sauvignon (Cono Sur) – it doesn’t disappear with the heat. Some San Gioveses also stand up to the chillies.) Make sure you put a little dish beside each plate for fished out chillies. You DON’T want to eat a whole chili by accident.Notes:
** If you are unused to very hot food, please do use fewer chillies. But do leave the chillies whole. It’s MUCH easier to remove them.
When we first started eating this particular recipe, I left all the chillies uneaten, pushing them to the side of my plate. With so many chillies, the pasta is permeated with hot spiciness. But T was horrified and demanded that I give the chillies to him. He wanted to eat them. He eats ALL of his chillies.
I don’t think this could ever be too hot for him. (Actually, there was one time that it was. We were holidaying in Italy and couldn’t find our usual dried chillies. We got some tiny tiny devilishly hot chillies at the local market and Oh My Oh My Oh My that pasta was hot hot hot. As I recall, I couldn’t eat it at all, even with all the chillies picked out and there was general shrieking from those who did attempt to swallow it all. I think it is the only time I’ve ever seen blackened chillies left by the sides of plates.)
Anyway, as time went by, I started to crave the heat as well and I have started to eat a few of the chillies on my plate!! (only one or two, nibbling tiny bits at a time…). The blackened chillies take on the most amazing toasty flavour.
Do try this dish! Why not tonight? This falls into the category of presto dinners. It’s very fast to prepare and very satisfying. I’ll be surprised if it doesn’t become your favourite as well.
Some time ago, Ruth (Once Upon a Feast) created this event for people to share their favourite pasta dishes. The event has just entered its fourth year!! Aqua (Served with Love) is hosting Presto Pasta Nights this week.
For complete details on how to participate in Presto Pasta Nights (PPN), please read the following:
- PPN 155
- How to Join PPN
- Who’s Hosting PPN?
edit 20 March 2010: Aqua has posted the PPN#155 round up. Mmmmmmm!