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Perfect match: bottarga spaghettini with fiano

Australian Gourmet Traveller wine match recipe for bottarga and fennel spaghettini.

By Alice Storey
  • Serves 4
  • 10 mins preparation
  • 15 mins cooking
Bottarga and fennel spaghettini
Bottarga and fennel spaghettini

Of all the Italian white grapes newly planted in Australian vineyards, those from southern Italy, particularly from Campania, the hills above Naples, are the ones I find most exciting. The fiano grape has been grown in Campania since well before Roman times and is thought to take its name either from the grape the Romans called vitis apiana (apis, or bees, were attracted to the vines), or from a type of local apple called appiano. Both hint at the type of wine produced from the grape: often quite aromatic, it can have a honeyed richness at its core, balanced by a crisp, appley acidity. The few examples made so far in Australia indicate that the grape is equally at home in very warm climates (along the Murray River in the hot, inland, irrigated districts, or in Langhorne Creek) and in cooler climes such as the Adelaide Hills and central Victoria, which are in some spots quite similar to the vines' Italian homeland.

I've chosen fiano to match this pasta recipe because the wine's medium to full body and intense flavour stand up wonderfully to the salty, briny kick of the bottarga and the garlic, while fiano's lifted perfume and assertive character are just what you need to complement the herbal, citrusy flavours in the dish.

Aromatic yet crisp, an intense fiano will stand up perfectly to this spaghettini with its salty, briny and citrusy flavours.

Ingredients

  • 400 gm dried spaghettini
  • 80 ml (1/3 cup) extra-virgin olive oil
  • 150 gm (2 cups) coarse sourdough breadcrumbs
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp dried chilli flakes
  • Finely grated rind and juice of 3 lemons, or to taste
  • 4 fennel bulbs, fronds only, coarsely chopped
  • To serve: bottarga, finely shaved (see note)

Method

Main
  • 1
    Cook pasta in a large saucepan of boiling salted water until al dente (5-8 minutes). Drain, reserve 40ml water, and return pasta and reserved water to pan to keep warm.
  • 2
    Meanwhile, heat oil in a separate saucepan over medium heat. Add breadcrumbs and stir occasionally until starting to colour (1-2 minutes). Add garlic, fennel seeds and chilli and sauté until breadcrumbs are golden and crisp (2-3 minutes). Remove breadcrumbs with a slotted spoon and drain on absorbent paper.
  • 3
    Add rind and juice to saucepan, stir to combine, season to taste, then add pasta and fennel fronds. Toss to combine, then serve scattered with bottarga and breadcrumbs.

Notes

Note We've used only the tender fennel fronds for this recipe. Reserve the bulbs for another use or thinly shave them on a mandolin, dress them with a little extra-virgin olive oil and lemon juice, season to taste and serve as a refreshing side salad. Bottarga is the salted dried roe of either mullet or tuna. It is available from select delicatessens. Drink suggestion by Max Allen