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What's Cooking? Purple Night Pasta
Field Notes • Cookbook

What's Cooking? Purple Night Pasta

Welcome to What's Cooking, our version of a good old fashioned recipe exchange! Share your recipes with us to be featured! Our team created this series as a way to exchange recipes between club members and friends around the country—sort of like setting the table together, even with miles between us. This recipe was submitted by Sara Bercholz, beloved Martha Stoumen Wines Community Member.



Serves: 2


"Let's say it’s a snowy evening. You’re wearing as many knit things as you can - a cashmere sweater, alpaca lounge pants, a merino wool beanie. There’s mellow jazzy music. Maybe you’re drinking some GABA oolong to calm your brain down, or an easy glass of Martha Stoumen's Venturi Carignan in a fine stem glass. Your TCM friend says to eat purple foods in winter. Eggplant is on his list but that feels wrong when snow is falling, so you rummage for a petite red onion, a tight little ball of radicchio, the pungent cured black olives that live forever in the back of the fridge…you get the idea? Take a sip of that wine, tasting the dark purple plum notes, and get cooking." —Sara B.




• olive oil
• small red onion or a few shallots
• small head radicchio
• small bulb fennel
• sea salt
• a fistful/dozen-ish black cured olives
• two servings worth of pasta (I like black bean spaghetti by Explore Cuisine here for the purple theme)
• balsamic vinegar
• black pepper
• flat leaf parsley
• Pecorino




Put a medium pot of water to boil.

Warm a large pan over low heat. Pour a few good glugs of olive oil in the pan.

Cut that cute little onion in half from top to bottom, peel the skins, then slice each half into thin moons. Add to the warm oil and sauté nice and slow while you work on the rest of the ingredients - if your heat is low you can mostly forget about it and just stir now and then.

Peel away any undesirable leafs from the radicchio, then cut it in half from top to bottom too. Cut off the bottom and the core, then slice each half, on the horizon, into ribbons.

Do the same with the fennel, trimming away any tough outer layers, and the stalks and fronds too*, before halving, coring, and slicing nice and thin.

When the onions are looking pretty melted, add the radicchio and fennel to the pan.

Throw some salt at it and stir to coat everything in the oil and onions. Continue to sauté, stirring now and then, letting everything get soft.

Roughly chop the olives and set aside.

If you've got some parsley on hand (flat leaf/italian only please!) chop some of those leaves and set them aside too.

Your pasta water should be boiling by now, maybe it has been for a while. Add a good amount of salt - imagine the way the sea tastes or how it feels to float in it and emulate that.

Add the pasta and bring it back to a boil. Cook until just al dente.

The melange in your pan should be looking pretty purple, and silky at this point. If so, pour in the balsamic vinegar, maybe a teaspoon or two. Stir it in and let it absorb and cook off.

Now stir in the olives and a few generous grinds of black pepper.

Pull that pot of pasta close to your pan and transfer the pasta right in there (best done with tongs, can be done with a fork). toss the pasta with all that melted goodness and remove from the heat when it’s all married nicely.

Drizzle some really good olive oil over it.

Serve the pasta into bowls. Throw the parsley at it. Grate the pecorino over the top of it all rather generously, or to your taste.

*save the fennel stalks and fronds for something else - you can decorate/garnish foods with the fronds, or throw the whole of it in a bag in the freezer for broth making. ditto any vegetable discard really, but especially these.




I’ve been making some version of this for a very long time. It comes together really quickly but the pungent flavors don’t belie its simplicity. the onion gets sweet when it’s caramelized, the bitterness of the radicchio cooks off and it gets silky. Fennel is a nice touch, both for flavor and texture but not necessary. I like the way balsamic feels a bit gauche to cook with but it’s perfect here. The black bean pasta works really well with the flavors and colors and has a crazy amount of protein, so even though i love traditional pasta, I like this one here. Pecorino is preferable for its sharpness against the sweet and salty thing that’s happening, but parmesan is never not good, and this dish isn’t fussy.



Header artwork by Libby Haines.