Stelline with Rosemary & Red Chilies
Ingredients:4 c. lightly salted water, seasoned with a drop of extra virgin olive oil (for boiling pasta)1/2 c. stelline (mini star-shaped pasta)1/4 c. olive brine (from container of fresh cured olives, like Kalamata, etc.; don't used canned olive brine!)1/2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil1 large, fresh bay leaf1/4 c. fresh parsley, finely minced & tightly packed2 Tbsp. fresh rosemary leaves, finely minced & tightly packed1/2 tsp. fresh Thai (Bird's Eye) red chili peppers, stemmed, seeded, deribbed, & diced (about 1 small pepper)1/16 tsp. (a dash) ground black pepper, or to taste2 Tbsp. Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, shredded
Directions: Bring a pot of lightly salted water, seasoned with a drop of olive oil, to a rolling boil, about 8 minutes. Add pasta & cook until al dente, according to package instructions. (Barilla's stelline takes 7 minutes to cook.) When ready, drain into a colander, fluff with a fork, & set aside.
After the pasta's been cooking for about 4 minutes, sauté the bay leaf, parsley, rosemary, & chilies in olive brine & olive oil on low heat in a large (12-13") sauté pan for about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Then pour in the drained pasta, stirring frequently. When liquid has almost completely evaporated, remove from heat. Season with black pepper, & gently fluff. Discard bay leaf. Cover pasta, mix in shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (to melt it), & let it rest for about 10 minutes before serving. (Top with pine/pignoli nuts, if desired.) Serve hot or warm.
Yield: 3-4 servings as a side dish, 1-2 servings as a main course.
Chef's Notes: This dish doesn't require the addition of salt. The olive brine provides enough salty flavor as well as the necessary moisture to cook the herbs & pasta.