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Michael Chiarello's Easy Holiday Pasta

Renowned chef Michael Chiarello is having an amazing autumn so far: His restaurant in California's Napa Valley, Bottega, remains one of the hottest tickets in town, and his new cookbook of the same name has been getting great reviews since its release in September.

"Early Show" Recipes Galore

And with the holidays around the corner, Chiarello shared on "The Early Show" Wednesday how to whip up easy, crowd-pleasing pasta dishes sure to become your guests' favorites.

RECIPES:

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Chef Michael Chiarello's Spaghettini Cooked in Zinfandel with Spicy Broccoli Rabe and Pecorino Romano

This pasta is a celebration of one of my favorites grapes, Zinfandel. Seldom is zinfandel given the respect I think it deserves. This dish lets you kneel at the altar of Zinfandel, a glass of it on your right hand, an entire plate of it on your left. The pasta is barely cooked in water, and then you finish cooking it in zinfandel until it's deep purple. Paired with a little broccoli rabe and some pecorino, this is a dish that is simple and yet extravagant.

It's a great crowd pleaser but one that might need explanation. Spaghetti and spagettini are expected to be doused in tomato sauce; this dish shows that spaghetti has a wider range than you might imagine.

Wine Pairing: Zinfandel
Serves 4 as main course or 8 as first course

1 1/2 pounds broccoli rabe
1 pound spaghettini
1 750-ml red wine, preferably zinfandel
1 tablespoon sugar
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons sliced garlic (about 3 medium cloves)
1 teaspoon Calabrian chili paste
1 teaspoon kosher salt or sea salt, preferably gray salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano

Bring an eight-quart pot of salted water to a boil, cook the broccoli rabe for about 3 minutes, and then transfer to a sheet tray and spread it out to cool. Using the same water, cook the spaghettini for half the normal time, stirring occasionally, for 3 to 5 minutes. You'll do the second half of the cooking in the zinfandel. Reserve one cup of the pasta water and then drain the pasta in a colander and set it aside. Return the empty pasta pot to the stove. You'll sauté the garlic at the same time that you finish cooking the pasta in wine.

Heat a large deep skillet until hot. Pour in the olive oil. When the oil is hot, reduce the heat to medium-low and add the garlic. Cook until the garlic is pale golden, about 3 minutes.

Pour the wine and the sugar into the drained pasta pot and boil vigorously over high heat to reduce 50 percent, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the spaghetti to the pot and shake the pot to prevent the pasta from sticking. Gently stir with tongs until coated and boil over high heat, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid is absorbed, about 6 minutes (pasta will be al dente).

When the garlic is golden, add the chili paste and the blanched broccoli rabe to the skillet, add salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally for 1 to 2 minutes. Pour in 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta water. Add the garlic, chili paste, and blanched broccoli rabe to the purple spaghettini, toss gently, and transfer onto individual plates or one big platter. Finish with grated pecorino cheese.

For more recipes, go to Page 2.

Tagliarini with Manila Clams and Calabrese Sausage

In different incarnations, this has been a part of my repertoire for 25 years. It's one of my all-time favorites, and all it needs is a cold glass of Pinot Grigio or a Bianco from Friuli to make it sing. Add some blanched rapini (broccoli rabe) to round out the meal.

Like many of my favorite dishes, this one began with fishermen. They brought dried sausages on their boats, caught clams, and cooked the two together for supper. You'll find variations of this shellfish-and-cured pork idea in China, Portugal, Spain -- in just about every fishing village around the world.

You can use either cherrystone or Manila clams. Manilas open faster than cherrystones, within about four minutes. If you don't own a sauté pan large enough to hold a pound of pasta and a lot of clams, a big roasting pan set right on the burners of your stove will work in its place, or you can use a Dutch oven. Taste before adding any salt; the sausage has a good amount of salt and you may not need any extra.

Wine Pairing: Greco, Pinot Grigio, or Friuli Bianco
Serves 6 to 8

24 manila clams or cherrystone clams (1 pound), scrubbed
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup sliced garlic
3 cups dry white wine
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
3/4 cup peeled and diced Calabrian sausage or any spicy salami or chorizo
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 pounds fresh egg pasta or store-bought, cut into tagliarini (1/8-inch-wide ribbons), or 1 pound dried tagliarini
1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup late-harvest extra-virgin olive oil for tossing

Toss out any clams that aren't tightly closed. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat.

Heat a large sauté pan, roasting pan, or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and, when it's hot, add the garlic. Sauté until the garlic is light brown. Immediately add the clams and cook until you hear them popping, no more than 1 to 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and pour in the wine.

Increase the heat to high, place the pan on the heat for just 30 seconds, then reduce the heat to medium-high. (If using cherrystone clams, you'll need to cover the pan.) Using tongs, transfer the opened clams to a baking sheet. Shake the pan to redistribute the closed clams. (If cooking cherrystone clams, lift the lid every 30 seconds or so and take out any opened clams.)

After 5 minutes, give any clam that has not opened a good tap with a pair of tongs or a metal spoon, and put it back in the liquid, cooking for another minute to see if it will open. Discard any clams that do not open. Increase the heat to high and bring the liquid to a boil, cooking for about 1 minute to reduce the liquid. Add any clam juice to the pan, along with the basil, sausage, and black pepper.

Cook the pasta in the boiling water for about 6 minutes, or until not quite al dente, because you'll finish cooking it in the pan used to cook the clams. (Again, the clock isn't as important as tasting to tell when the pasta is ready.) Reserve 2 cups of the pasta water, then drain the pasta.

Add the pasta to the sauté pan and toss for 1 minute. Add the clams and the parsley and toss. If the pasta is dry, add 1/2 cup of the pasta water, or more if needed. Cook until the pasta is al dente, about 2 minutes more for fresh pasta or 3 to 4 more for dried. Taste to tell when the pasta is perfect. Toss with the late-harvest olive oil and serve right away.

Salsa di Parmigiano

Serves: 2+ Cups

8 ounces Parmesan cheese, broken into 1" chunks
8 ounces Asiago cheese, broken into 1" chunks
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped basil
2 tablespoons chopped scallions
1 teaspoon pepper flakes
1-1/2 cups extra-virgin olive oil

Place all of the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse for about 10 seconds, to break the cheese into small granules. (Use a rubber spatula to scrape down and recombine between every couple of pulses.)

Transfer the salsa to a sealed container and refrigerate for up to a week. Bring to room temperature before serving.

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