Montepulciano Rosato wine and fresh pasta with yellow tomatoes and smoked cacioricotta cheese

This week Graziana and Giorgio, the owners of WalkingWine, an Apulian street – wine shop, presented us a pairing between a Contessa StaffaMontepulciano Rosato IGT Daunia wine by Antica Enotria wine-cellar, and a dish created by Francesco Nacci.

Since 2012 Francesco Nacci is chef and owner, together with his wife Evelyn Fanelli (expert sommelier), of Botrus – divino Ristorante  restaurant.

The restaurant is located in Ceglie MessapicaPugliaSouth Italy, a  small and elegant town in the heart of the Itria valley (for more info take a look here).

Chef Francesco’s connection with the kitchen is engraved in his DNA: at the end of the nineteenth century his great-grandmother, known as “Anna la cantiniera“, was one of the first to get a license to open a restaurant in Ceglie; his grandmother Lucia and mother Immacolata, who even today makes all dishes with fresh handmade pasta, were restaurateurs too.

Francesco‘s passion for the cuisine blossoms in adulthood when, far from his mother’s kitchen, he rediscovered and learnt the importance of raw ingredients, needed to create great dishes. In his cuisine, instinctive and traditional, he embodies the authenticity of the Apulian flavors without exempting himself from learning and experimenting with different cooking techniques.

The dish prepared by chef Francesco is made with 3 Apulian niche products: sponzale onions, yellow tomatoes and cacioricotta cheese (see the recipe below). The sweetness of this dish is enhanced by the characteristics of the Montepulciano Rosato wine, as recommended by Walkingwine.

THE DISH

Fresh wholemeal pasta with yellow tomatoes and smoked cacioricotta cheese

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INGREDIENTS for 4 servings:

350 gr fresh wholemeal homemade pasta made with flour and water (like strascinate or orecchiette or similar)
∼ 30 Torre Guaceto yellow tomatoes
150-200 gr smoked cacioricotta cheese
3-4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
salt
lemon bio zest, to taste
3 sponzale, (also called porraia) onionsonly the white part, finely chopped

The sponzale belong to the onion family, they are like an onion bulb with a green edible stem and they are appreciated for the sweet taste. This vegetable is a niche product of Apulia and Basilicata Italian regions.

The small yellow tomatoes are characterised by bright yellow fruits with a very sweet and aromatic taste. They are a niche product cultivated in a small land by the Adriatic sea of Marine Protected Area, Torre Guaceto located in Carovigno municipality, Alto Salento – Brindisi.

Cacioricotta cheese is a white and hard paste cheese made with goat and/or sheep’s milk. It can be grated or cut in flakes and the taste is intense. It is a traditional product from the Southern Italian regions Puglia and Basilicata.

In a wok pan heat the oil, then add the sponzale onions and let them sauté for few minutes. Add the tomatoes, cut half of them into two parts and leave the others whole, salt in the pan and let sauté for few minute stirring with a spoon wooden. Then lower the heat, cover the pan with a lid and let cook for 20- 30 minutes, adding a bit of water or broth little by little, if too thick. When the sauce is ready, finish with fresh grated lemon zest.

Meanwhile, fill a big pot with water and bring to a boil, cook into it the strascinate, or orecchiette,  until al dente (follow the instruction here).
Drain the pasta and combine it with the yellow tomatoes sauce, mixing very well. Sprinkle with freshly grated smoked cacioricotta cheese.

THE WINE

Contessa Staffa – Montepulciano Rosato IGT Daunia

Wine cellar: Antica Enotria, the first Apulian cellar that obtained the certification of organic production.
Grape variety: several varieties of Montepulciano.
Wine: trained using  the “Pugliese trellis” method, 100,000 kg per hectare.
Sensory characteristics: a lovely pink colour with slight nuances of onion skin, the wine with flavors reminiscent of wild strawberries and other small red berries. On the palate, the wine is remarkable for its aromatic persistence and strikes a perfect balance between velvety soft and crisp.