Sweet and Spicy Bucatini with Antipasta Salad
- 3 tablespoons plus 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
- 3 large onions, thinly sliced
- 6 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves removed and roughly chopped
- 1 sprig fresh rosemary, leaves removed and roughly chopped
- 1 1/2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
- Salt and pepper
- 1 small head cauliflower, cut in half, cored and chopped into small florets
- 3/4 pound string beans, stem ends removed
- 1 pound bucatini pasta
- 1 tablespoon mustard (eyeball it)
- 1/2 cup sliced pepperoncini peppers and some of their liquid
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar (eyeball it)
- 1/4 pound sliced sopressata, cut into strips
- 20 leaves basil, chopped
- 1/2 cup white wine (eyeball it)
- 1 cup chicken stock (eyeball it)
- 1 cup Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, plus some to pass at the table
- 1/2 cup flat leaf parsley leaves, roughly chopped (a couple of handfuls)
Place a large pot filled with water over high heat to both blanch the veggies for the salad and also to cook the pasta. Place a lid on the pot so that it will come up to a boil faster.
Once you get the water on the stovetop, place a large skillet over medium-high heat with three turns of the pan of EVOO, about 3 tablespoons. Add the onions, thyme, rosemary, and crushed red pepper flakes and season with some salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, for 10-15 minutes, or until the onions are a dark golden brown.
Once the water comes up to a boil, add some salt and the cauliflower and string beans. Cook for about 30 seconds, then fish them out with a slotted spoon or handled sieve. Place in a colander and run under cold water to stop the cooking. Transfer the veggies to a cookie sheet lined with a kitchen towel and let them continue to drain and completely dry off. Add the pasta to the pot you just blanched the veggies in and cook until al dente, according to package directions. Right before draining the pasta, remove and reserve 1 cup of the pasta cooking water.
Prepare the dressing for the anitpasta salad: in the bottom of a salad bowl, combine the mustard, about 1 tablespoon of the liquid the pepperoncini are in (a good size splash), and the red wine vinegar. Whisk in the remaining 1/4 cup of EVOO. Season with a little salt and pepper and add the drained dry veggies, sopressata, basil and the sliced pepperoncini. Toss to combine.
To the brown onions, add the white wine, chicken stock and the reserved pasta cooking liquid. Bring up to a bubble and simmer for about 2 minutes, then add the pasta and toss to coat in the sauce. Turn the heat off and add the Parmigiano Reggiano and the parsley. Stir to combine and serve alongside the anitpasta salad. Serve a little Parmigiano Reggiano to pass at the table.