Thai Chile Sauce and Sotol?

I am strung out on this version of Sambal Oelek right now. Bought because my Asian market was out (?) of the usual one we all recognize in the squat plastic jar.

It is a hot-sweet style that I’ve been putting on EVERYTHING.

Like Moroccan spiced roasted carrots and zuke, for instance.

This was SO good – I’ve already had it twice again.

I had some rosé open, but it didn’t quite hit the sweet spot. Then I tried a Sonoma Sauvignon Blanc, mais non.

Surprisingly, the magical pairing turned out to be Ochos Sientos Sotol! The reposado was good, but the blanco – even better.  Its grassy, floral quality melded so well with the rapini, chile, hazelnuts.



Penne with Rapini and Grapes

1 bu        rapini, trimmed

               olive oil

1 C         chopped onion

3 Tbsp  currants

5             cloves garlic, minced

1 C         halved grapes

≈3 Tbsp chile paste/sauce (such as Harissa or Sambal Olek), or to taste


4-5 oz    penne (about 2 oz per person)

½ C +    roasted, skinned, and cracked hazelnuts

              shaved Pecorino

Chop stems into half-inch pieces. Separately, roughly chop through the leaves and buds. Put water on for the pasta.

In a sauté pan over medium heat, cook onions until translucent along with the currants. When the pasta water begins to boil, add rapini stems, grapes, and garlic to the onions – cover.

Put a good handful of salt into the boiling water (don’t be afraid!), and cook the penne to al dente.

When the pasta is half done, fold the rapini leaves and chile sauce into the vegetables.

Mix pasta into the vegetables along with a little of the water, if desired. Spoon into bowls and serve topped with the hazelnuts and Pecorino.

Serves 2

made 2 April 2014

Rapini ~ Broccoli Rabe/Raab ~ Cima di Rape

Recipe by Valerie D. Verkerke – Gem Chef

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