Lover’s Pasta

The very first time that Rebekah and I went to lunch together we were just “friends”. That first meal was at a sidewalk restaurant on Sunset Blvd called Le Petite Four, and it was amazing. We both worked at the same TV/film production company in LA and this lunch was “totally professional”. The only problem was that I was insanely in love with her.

That was years ago. Time flies when you’re having fun… and raising four kids. We call them the
crowded years.

That wonderful restaurant is still there and as remarkable as always. This was their signature pasta, named for the restaurant, which was admired for its California fusion dishes. This was our first meal together and it was amazing. Maybe it was the company, I don’t know, but with a glass of ice cold Rose, this meal got seared into my memory bank as what lovers should make together. We have now transformed the meal in many ways. It became more and more a product of our wild savory kitchen… we use powder from the porcini mushrooms we hunt for in the Sierra mountains, we use oven roasted garlic, we prefer a lighter pasta like this Farfalle, but the inspiration is that fabulous first meal.

There was one mystery, however. We like to reproduce meals we have had in restaurants and homes around the world, but one thing absolutely stumped us about this meal. There was a certain umami herb flavor in their pasta, and we couldn’t figure it out. So years later, we were there for a Valentine’s Day date, for old times sake, and we asked the waiter if he would find out if the chef was kind enough to relieve us of our torture… what was that haunting flavor? The waiter came back with a slight smile on his face. The chef informed us that the secret ingredient is this… Vermouth. And then it hit us… Vermouth is packed with exotic herbs, bark, spices and botanicals… this was the complicated, haunting and illusive ingredient. This pasta is a beautiful fusion feast, and, in truth, the story of two lovers.


1 whole purchased rotisserie or home roasted chicken, cooled, de-boned and cut
into bite sized chunks

1/2 pound cremini or porcini mushrooms (if you have access to porcini powder, sprinkle
it over the cremini, once it is already seared)
1 pound pasta, either farfalle, pennette, penne rigate, or we really like Strozzapreti
pasta from Montebello, or from Rustichella d’Abruzzo, we use Casareccia, or we use
our own fresh pasta
1 cup petite peas, frozen or fresh
2 cups (16 oz.) heavy cream
2 cups reduced rich chicken broth (we use the bones from the whole chicken above to
make our own broth) or use a store bought brand that is free range
1 sweet onion, finely minced
2 shallots, finely minced
1/4 cup olive oil (we like Italian for this little feast)
1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes, chopped roughly
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large whole garlic head, roasted in the oven
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 cup basil, chopped roughly, packed tight
4 tablespoons Vermouth
1 1/2 cup white wine, we use Chardonnay
Salt and black pepper to taste, at least a teaspoon each


Boil three quarts of water in a large pot, with 2 tablespoons salt, and cook the pasta until al dente. Drain in a colander and set aside.

Note: If you like to make fresh pasta like we do (one of our family traditions during the Holidays), you can prepare dough ahead of time and then use a pasta machine to make fettucine or linguni while the sauce is cooking. Boil pasta immediately for only 90 seconds and add it to the finished sauce. Sublime. The best home made pasta is made from Semola durum wheat 00 grind from Caputo, available from Amazon or good supermarkets.

Using a 12 inch pan, saute the onion and shallots in 1/2 the olive oil over medium heat
until they are caramelized.

Add the Vermouth and the results will be amazing and fragrant, a toasty patina.

Add the wine and let sizzle for a minute. Then add the chicken broth and reduce by 2/3rds.

In a separate large skillet, heat the last of the olive oil, add the butter and saute
the mushrooms until they are browned and caramelized. Salt and pepper them, and
add the porcini powder (if you have it) and the balsamic vinegar.

Simmer this mixture until aromatic, and then add the sun dried tomatoes and chicken chunks. Stir
to marry. Add this mixture to the reduced sauce and then pour in the cream.

Add the roasted garlic and simmer until bubbling. Then add the peas and the fresh chopped basil.

Salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat, and place pasta INTO the sauce.

Serve with shaved Parmesan.

This is a truly romantic feast for lovers. Enjoy!