I like to cook with alcohol, but I hardly ever buy it specifically for that reason. When it comes to wine, in the bottom shelf of my fridge door you’ll find the remnants of bottles that were never quite finished. They’re tucked away there just for cooking purposes and that’s mostly de-glazing plans for sauces, stews and soups.
I don’t drink expensive wine, so naturally I’m not going to cook with it either. But most importantly, when cooking with wine – or any alcohol – you should only use something you like the flavor of and wouldn’t mind drinking.
By boiling linguine in red wine and water, this pasta dish truly highlights its use by dying the linguine an attractive shade of purple. Cooking pasta in wine – “drunken” – is actually a common Tuscan technique. There are several methods out there regarding how much wine to use when doing so, and some suggest using wine as the only liquid. But the recipe below, since it is more heavily water based, offers a pretty mild wine flavor in the end, despite the vibrant result. You don’t have to be a wine lover to enjoy it and you don’t have to devote a whole bottle either. Unless you want to, of course.
Beets, with their similar shade of purple, felt like a logical addition to the pasta. Since I already happened to have some cooked in the fridge, I chopped those up and added them in, along with a mix of chard and beet greens.
If you don’t have a specific use in mind, I can’t suggest enough to precook vegetables like beets and winter squash when you have the chance. They will store in the fridge for the week and make for a quick addition to a dish like this.
You could, and probably should, adapt this recipe in a number of ways. It was my first time making it, but next time I might add in a tablespoon or so of tomato paste to the pan before adding in the reserved pasta water to thicken up the sauce. I also see it being just as great with Parmesan cheese instead of goat. And I might save some time by boiling the greens with the pasta instead of wilting them in the pan.
- 1 1/2 cups red wine (about half a bottle)
- 1 pound spaghetti
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 red onion
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- freshly ground pepper
- 1 bunch beet greens, chard or kale, roughly chopped or torn
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 3 medium beets, cooked, peeled and chopped
- 1/2 cup toasted walnuts, chopped
- 1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese
- 1/4 cup fresh basil or parsley, chopped
- Add the wine to a large pot of salted water. Bring to a boil, add the pasta and cook to al dente. Drain, reserving one cup of the cooking liquid.
- Meanwhile, chop the onion and mince the garlic. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the onion, garlic and red pepper. Cook about 8 minutes before adding the greens, nutmeg and ground pepper, to taste. Let wilt, then add the reserved cooking liquid, the butter and the beets. Bring to a simmer.
- Simmer until the liquid has reduced slightly. Toss in the cooked pasta until all is combined. Taste, adjust seasoning as needed, then top with the walnuts, goat cheese and herbs.