This is as simple and as basic as a recipe could be, and all the better for it. I love the way Italians cook greens with their pasta, and often those are the recipes, perhaps thought to be unglamorous, that don’t make it over here. And maybe it’s also the case that non-Italians need a little more persuasion to throw a lettuce into their saucepan. If you can’t get escarole, which is a member of the endive family, use any similar lettuce — curly endive, frisee, or some such. What you want is a robust leaf with an edge of bitterness, and with it I think you need an equally robust pasta. I always go for the thick rough ribbon of pappardelle, but failing that, you might consider rigatoni.
Yield: Serves 4–6
1 tablespoon garlic-infused olive oil
1 teaspoon dried crushed chiles
16–18 cups roughly sliced escarole
1 cup white wine
1 cup water
1 lb egg pappardelle
½ cup chopped parsley
½ cup flaked Parmesan cheese
salt to taste
1 long red chile, deseeded and finely chopped, optional
Put a large pot of water onto boil for the pappardelle.
In another — wide — pan, heat the oil gently with the dried chile flakes, and then add the sliced escarole, stirring to help it wilt down in the oil.
Add the wine and water and partially cover the pan, letting the escarole cook, bubbling away, for about 6 minutes and let the pasta cook in its pan at the same time.
Toss the drained pasta into the cooked escarole (this will be a fairly liquid mixture) and scatter with the parsley and cheese, checking the seasoning as you do so; decorate the top with the fresh red chile if you want enhanced heat and color.