Pasta Night

* ‘Pasta Night’ is part four in a series of recommendations for budget wines and what to pair with them.

Time to prep

Time to prep

The Umbrian town of Orvieto, in central Italy, is home to one of the classic Italian white wines. Named for the city Orvieto, the wine is a blend of grapes whose obscurity outside of the boot or outside of Italophiles can be attributed to the simplicity of remembering the city’s name compared to the names of the grapes themselves.

Tonight’s budget wine is the Sergio Mottura Orvieto, a blend of 50% Procanico, 25% Verdello and 25% Grechetto. Its vineyards lies on the Umbria/ Lazio border and boasts a small hotel, the La Tana dell’Istrice or Porcupine’s Lair. You’ll see the prickly little mascot on all the labels.

Orvieto is typically a safe perennial pick, as it’s light body and soft fruit offer the profile needed to ensure mass appeal. The Mottura Orvieto entertains with an aromatic display of mellow fruitiness and a flavorful finish of herbaceous minerality. And its delicate golden color makes for an attractive and appealing wine for under $15.

Our Orvieto was chosen to act as a refresher to a spicy but simple pasta dish, Fettuccine al Limone with jalapenos and pecorino romano cheese. We borrowed this recipe from Molto Italiano and that means when you see the word “limone” you better believe the lemon flavor shines through. Throw in the pizazz of some hot peppers and the saltiness of some pecorino romano and you have the basis for one very simple but intensely appetizing pasta dish.

Fettuccine al Limone

Fettuccine al Limone

Together, the Orvieto and lemon fettuccine pairing make for a colorful and flavorful ode to simplicity.

“You broke my heart” (al) Fredo

So goes one of the more memorable lines of The Godfather trilogy. Michael Corleone delivers the kiss of death to his brother, Fredo. You can jog the old memory here:

I always think of that line when I hear or read or cook alfredo sauce. Obviously, it’s because the sauce and the character have the same name. But on a different level, it’s because I still remember tasting my mom’s alfredo sauce for the first time. And every time since. Originally her mother’s recipe, the family “alfredo” had a secret ingredient that’s really hard to put your finger on. And when I tried it for the first time it was soooo good it broke my heart. Still does.

So this past weekend, I popped open the freezer to find a not-so-discreetly hidden bag of homemade Swiss Chard Ravioli. It seems my son’s nonnie had popped them in there during a recent visit. Swiss chard ravioli are really the best; wholesome, simple and with the right sauce – magic! All that was left to do was slowly boil the pasta and attempt to replicate the family “sauce.”
Most alfredo sauces are truly quite simple with perhaps a half dozen ingredients at best. Nonna Louisa’s follows the book in that regard; butter, cream cheese, cream, more cream, the obligatory S & P, cream, etc. Seems the difference was ingenuously in the slow, constant stirring of the sauce. Yeah right!
Still, the net result was the same…. cheesy, greeny, pasta goodness. Voila!

Served family style with some grilled red and yellow bells and zucchini, the alfredo and swiss chard ravioli went well with a nice bottle of Orvieto by Sergio Mottura. A blend of indigenous Procanico and Grechetto grapes, the Mottura Orvieto is a minerally and citrus infused Italian white with a palate cleansing finish. Its prickly acidity helps cut through all the heavy cream of the alfredo while still complimenting the freshness of the green filling. And there’s no secret ingredient involved.