"Preparing dinner for the holiday was something that my entire family was involved in—grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles and cousins. It was a big production. Everything was made by hand, including the wine," recalls Luca Rutigliano, executive chef at CordeValle, a Rosewood resort in the foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains. On Christmas Eve, the entire family would rise early in the home built by Rutigliano’s grandfather outside of Rome. "Everyone had their job. One of mine was to collect fresh eggs with my grandpa, then I’d head to the local market with my grandma and mother to pick up shrimp, and buy a bucket of sardines, or blue fish, as we called them. When we’d get back all of the kids would clean the sardines" for the traditional fried sardines with caramelized onions appetizer. Rutigliano strives to introduce his family to many of these traditions and dishes—"although, I must admit that there are one or two dishes that I just can’t make the way my mom does, no matter what I try." Pair this dish with a rich, barrel-fermented Italian Pinot Grigio, like the St. Michael-Eppan Sanct Valentin, or a racy California Gris, like Buena Vista’s. —Steve Heimoff
Wine pairing: A rich, barrel-fermented Italian Pinot Grigio, like the Sanct Valentin St. Michael-Eppan. Alternatively, a racy California Gris, like Buena Vista’s.
- 1 pound fresh peeled shrimp
- 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 bundle of fresh Italian parsley, chopped
- 2 heirloom tomatoes
- 1 head of fresh garlic, chopped
- 2 pieces of pepperoncini or chili flake
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 1 pound spaghetti or tonnarelli pasta
Cut the shrimp into small pieces and season with a sufficient drizzle of olive oil plus salt, pepper and parsley (reserving some parsley for the garnish), and set aside. Chop fresh heirloom tomatoes into small cubes.
Boil 2-4 quarts water and add salt. Cook pasta until al dente. While pasta is cooking, in a saucepan add the remaining olive oil, garlic and chili flakes. Add the heirloom tomato pieces and cook at low flame, adding white wine, to taste. When tomato is cooked add shrimp and cook for a few minutes more, making sure not to overcook.
Drain pasta, reserving water, and add pasta to the sauce. Cook all together, adding small splashes of pasta water. Serve with fresh chopped parsley.