Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Drunken Tuscan Pasta

The first time I saw this recipe, I couldn't wait to try it.  Then I proceeded to wait a couple of years to make it.  The fact is, this recipe is controversial, and I couldn't bring myself to give it a try until now.  How can a pasta dish be controversial, you ask?  Well, it involves dumping an entire bottle of wine into a pot, bringing to a boil, and cooking pasta in it.

Wine fanatics, fear not.  The wine doesn't die a pointless death.  It infuses the pasta with an incredibly deep, robust flavor (and color) unlike any pasta you've ever had before.  You might cry a little when you drain the pasta, and watch the boiled wine go down the drain.  But it will be in the name of a delicious dinner.

This dish truly is delicious and note-worthy.  And if it breaks your heart to use a bottle of wine this way, well, perhaps it isn't the dish for you.  But I'm sure two buck chuck would work perfectly fine, so no need to break out the family heirloom from your cellar here. 

The rest of the flavors are gorgeous as well.  Woodsy rosemary and mushrooms; earthy swiss chard with a whisper of nutmeg; garlic and red pepper flakes.  Everything about this meal sings.  Definitely break this one out for a special occasion.  Ask your guests to bring the wine - then you won't feel so bad about the bottle that just sacrificed itself for this incredible meal.

Drunken Tuscan Pasta
adapted from Rachael Ray's Book of 10
serves 2-3


1 bottle red wine (I used Cabernet)
1/2 pound whole wheat spaghetti, angel hair, or linguine
1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cups sliced baby bella (crimini) mushrooms
1 sprig fresh rosemary, leaves finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
pinch red pepper flakes
1 bunch of Swiss chard, stems removed, coarsely chopped
salt and pepper to taste
pinch of nutmeg


1.  Pour the entire bottle of wine into a medium-sized pot, and top up with water until it's the amount of liquid you would normally use to make pasta.  Bring to a boil.  Add pasta and cook to al dente.  Reserve about a cup of the cooking liquid before draining the pasta.

2.  Meanwhile, heat one tablespoon of the EVOO in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the mushrooms and rosemary and cook until mushrooms are deeply golden, about 5 to 6 minutes.  Push the mushrooms to the side of the pan and add remaining EVOO to the center of the skillet.  Add garlic and red pepper flakes and cook for a minute or so, then toss with the mushrooms.

3.  Add the Swiss chard to the skillet and season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg.  When they have wilted down, add the reserved pasta cooking liquid to the skillet and cook for a minute or so to reduce.  Toss the pasta with the rest of the ingredients and serve.



  1. Just looking at the picture makes me salivate. We have a two buck chuck waiting in the cupboard just for this recipe - and I won't wait a year to try it. Thanks!

  2. I actually made this for Valentine's Day and posted about it as well! It was good, wasn't it?