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by Paige Harbison

It’s another rainy day in mid-winter, and there is only one thing to do today. Light some candles, put on the perfect playlist, and spend some time in the kitchen.

I find that once Spring is in my long-distance vision, I lean towards meals that satisfy me and warm me from the inside out—but that don’t cause me to dread bathing suit season. Today, I’m making a light but incredibly flavorful pasta dish.

For me, this meal has everything—heat, savory, sweet, cheese, and wine. Inspired by the satiating hits-every-note of a charcuterie board.

This is the sort of recipe where you can’t really go wrong. It’s about the combination of flavors, not about specific measurements. For me this felt like the most balanced levels of each flavor, but after coming to the measurements, I upped the spice, balsamic, and the garlic to accommodate our personal palates. (I’m a cheese, balsamic, heat, and garlic junkie.)

For two, you’ll need:
1/8th of a pound Soppresata Dolce (sweet)
1/8th of a pound Hot Soppresata
2 quarts Chicken Broth (free-range, low sodium is mjy leaning)
2 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
3 oz Sun-dried Tomatoes (I used the kind in a sealed package, got them from Trader Joes—but any will do—the amount is mostly your preference)
1 Cup Finely Shredded Kale (use kitchen scissors, leave out the stalks)
1 tbsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp Red Pepper Flakes
2 tsp Ghee or Butter (see our Recipe section) 

Angel Hair Pasta (I used about half a box for this amount of sauce)
Parmesan Reggiano (grate from the block for the best flavor)

I threw the first set of ingredients in my Le Creuset dutch oven. Starting with broth, then adding the rest. I added the meat last. The only goal here is to allow the flavors to spend time together, allow the broth to boil down a bit and get rich with these flavors, and turn the kale into something we barely notice, but which is very healthy. I covered mine, keeping it on high, and then lowered it and kept it covered once the broth had begun to reduce.

I then boiled the angel hair in a separate pot, boiling the water, tossing in the dry pasta, stirring constantly, and then removing them after exactly two minutes.

I tossed the pasta with a smidgen of ghee, but cultured butter will do. Then I plated it by putting the plain pasta in a bowl, and making space in the center (like a small nest). Then I ladle in the sauce, allowing enough of the thin broth to begin filling the bowl from beneath the pasta. I think this is served best this way, not over saturating the pasta with sauce.

Then, the final touch- the cheese! Grate your Parmesan over the outside of the bare pasta, and in the center on your sauce. Then, if you’re like me, add it frequently throughout the meal. :)

I served this with a Bordeaux Merlot. It’s the perfect spice and fruit to balance out the sweetness of the balsamic, and is always perfection with Parmesan.

Being that it is still oversized sweater season…there was no way I was letting this evening get away without dessert.

This dessert is perfectly easily prepared while your sauce ruminates.

You’ll need:
One Baguette (1/4” slices)
1 bar Semi-Sweet Chocolate (60% Cacao is a good starting point, but this is all about personal taste)
Your block of Parmesan
2 tbsp Ghee or Butter
1 tsp Vanilla Extract (real vanilla bean works best)
Coarse Sea Salt

I went through my whole baguette and two bars of chocolate figuring out the best way to let the cheese and the chocolate shine, and to create a satisfying meal-ender for even a non-dessert person.

Preheat oven to 375. Take vanilla extract, and ghee, melt over medium heat in small saucepan.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or tin foil. Place baguette pieces about 1/4” apart from each other.

Brush bread with a fairly liberal amount of your vanilla mixture.

Crack small pieces over your bread, as small as you can get them. (I experimented with shaving the chocolate, food-processing it, etc., but I think the hearty chunks work best)

Grate your Parmesan over the chocolate, again being fairly liberal. Toss in the oven, come back about 10-15 minutes later, and see if the chocolate is melting and if the bread is turning golden brown. You want to remove it before the bread becomes very hard—although we didn’t with one batch and are enjoying them as a sort of biscotti! (When life gives you hard bread, make biscotti? That’s the expression right?)

This is the perfect capper for your pasta dinner. The flavors of vanilla, spice, sweeter dark fruit, and savory lovely cheese are everywhere here, from your glass of wine to dinner, to dessert.

Parmesan and Dark Chocolate have a chemically undeniable relationship. Huffington Post did an interesting article on it! And the romance between wine, cheese, and chocolate has never been argued.

Bon Appetit!

Paige Harbison


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