Recipes San Francisco Wine pairings

Rigatoni “Puttanesca” with Cowgirl Creamery Creme Fraiche

November 24, 2008

History has it that Pasta (in this case, Rigatoni) puttanesca had something to do with prostituites in Naples, but all I can tell you is it’s great in winter and terribly typically Mediterranean.

180g rigatoni (pasta for 2-3), dry
80g (several T) good quality tomato paste
1 yellow bell pepper
1/3 red bell pepper
2 T capers (packed in salt if possible)
2 T diced black, kalamata, or other full flavored pitted olive
2 Heaping spoonfuls of creme fraiche
1/4 C stock (vegetable or chicken or water if you must)
chili flakes
salt & pepper
olive oil

Boil the pasta in well salted water until al dente. While cooking, sautee 1 inch chunks of yellow bell pepper & diced chunks of red bell pepper in hot olive oil, medium high heat. Add salt & pepper. If you want, you can start with a bit of finely chopped onion. Add 2 tsp red pepper flakes or less/more to taste.

Once a bit softened, add tomato paste and a splash of vegetable or chicken stock (water if you have to). Let paste incorporate and sauce simmer until reduced. Add capers and olives, let warm. Turn off heat and add creme fraiche (I used the ultra full flavored and delicious local SF Cowgirl Creamery variety), stir in. Toss pasta and serve.

Wine: It’d be nice with a nice spicy red wine like sangiovese (chianti, chianti classico, rosso di montalcino, etc) or a lighter zinfandel, or a well balanced merlot to soften it up and take away the spice a bit

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  • Reply Viola Davis December 31, 2008 at 1:32 am

    Hello there,

    I came across your website and this recipe. I teach cooking in Minnesota, Italian actually and thought you might like to know that creme fraiche is not usually used in a dish like this. It would be ricotta to make it creamy, but creme fraiche sounds good as well! If you live near Minneapolis I would love to give you info on my classes!

    Best Regards,


  • Reply click January 2, 2009 at 10:00 am

    Hi Viola,

    Thanks for your message and the information! Yes, usually it would be crema or ricotta, but its difficult to find crema even in San Francisco where I am, and I don’t care much for the texture in ricotta re: sauces.

    Your classes sound like fun for those in the area–you should add your business to Yelp.com in your local area so your customers can start referring you with their legitimate reviews. That kind of business takes off nicely with Yelp, it’s like a word-of-mouth superspace!

    It is probably not clear from just this entry, but I did attend culinary school in Italy!


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