2007 Cappellano Dolcetto and Pasta Puttanesca

In Uncategorized on September 11, 2011 at 10:44 am


So, I went backpacking a little while ago, and I love cooking while backpacking. I mean, I love cooking all the time, but having outstanding food while out in the woods is particularly awesome, as is having good wine to go with it.

Cooking while backpacking is a matter of figuring out how to get the maximum amount of flavor with the minimum pack weight. Honestly, this meal is probably a little heavy, but it’s bloody delicious and I never go backpacking without it. Also, on my most recent trip, I learned that trout makes an excellent addition to this recipe.

I rarely cook with strict recipes, but here’s basically what I’m working with. Before leaving home, I pack about a cup of anchovy-stuffed olives, roughly chopped. I use these because a traditional pasta puttanesca recipe has anchovy, but I don’t like anchovy that much, so this gives just a little bit of anchovy character, but not too much. If you love anchovies, go ahead and pack the olives of your choice and some actual anchovy fillets. I also pack a half cup of Just Tomato Bits. This is a specific brand of course, you can use whatever you want, if you have a food dehydrator you can dry your own home-grown tomatoes. I also pack fresh herbs. You can use whatever herbs you like, I’m particularly fond of rosemary and oregano in this dish, and usually basil. I made a new addition to the recipe on this most recent trip, and I will definitely make this a permanent part of the dish: dried kale. I took kale from the garden, left it in my oven on the lowest setting for a few hours until it was completely dried out, then packed it up. It was, of course, completely crumbled by the time I got to camp, but added awesome flavor and texture to the dish. The dish also needs garlic (paste or powder or fresh), dry salami, olive oil, trout, thyme, red pepper flake (if you like it spicy) and optional tomato paste.

The order and logistics of the dish will vary depending on what equipment you’ve brought with you. In this case, I did almost the entire dish in one sautee pan. I cooked the fish first, then set them by the side of the fire in tinfoil to stay warm. I then put the salami, roughly chopped, into the pan until it started to get crispy and there was a fair bit of salami grease in the bottom of the pan. I then added the tomato bits, dried kale, red pepper and water. You want to get your dry ingredients in fairly early to make sure they fully soften up. Add the garlic and tomato paste at this point as well. Tomato paste isn’t required, but it will make for just a little more tomato-ey sauce in your final product. As the sauce is simmering, you’ll need to cook your pasta. Any pasta will do, though I always use cappellini while backpacking just because it cooks faster. You want your sauce to be simmering so the water slowly reduces, but don’t let it get too dry. If you run out of water completely it will scorch, and you want a little bit of liquid left because the noodles will soak it up. I added the fish before the noodles, simply pulling the meat from the bones and mixing it with the sauce. And finally, added the pasta, and voila!

So, if you don’t already have a system worked out for taking wine while backpacking, check this out. I paired this with the 2007 Cappellano Dolcetto. I just recently became familiar with the wines of Teobaldo Cappellano, and my only regret is that I didn’t know about them sooner. Unfortunately Cappellano passed away a few years ago, and I honestly don’t know what the future holds for his label, but there are still some wines in the market that he made before he died, and this is one of them. If you’re familiar with Dolcetto, it’s probably not a grape you expect to produce amazing wines. Dolcetto is generally good, pleasant, versatile, and inexpensive, though rarely mind-blowing. This was one of the two best I can ever remember tasting. The other was the 2006 Pechennino Dogliani, which says a lot about the Cappellano I think, since Dogliani is a DOCG zone that was established because of the outstanding quality of the Dolcetto grown there. The Cappellano Dolcetto is also one relatively affordable way to check out Teobaldo’s wines, since the bulk of his production is Barolo, which isn’t exactly everyday drinking for me.


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