red wine pasta

4    |   
Prep Time:
15 minutes    |   
Cook Time:
20 minutes

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red wine pasta

Has grocery shopping become scary or what? This tortures me. I’ve always loved shopping like a European, walking daily to my local market and letting what looks good tell me what to cook for dinner. Now we have to suit up, go only once a week, forgo testing avocado ripeness with a finger or lifting a box of strawberries to smell the sunshine in it. And forget about joking around with the cashiers and hugging favorite clerks like I used to. It’s in and out quick now. I miss normal grocery shopping more than anything. 

Still, it’s forced me to get creative with leftovers, which gave me the excuse to make this magnificent recipe by David Tanis when I had a few half-empty bottles of red wine and lots of pasta lying around (which is pretty much every day). The original Tuscan dish is called spaghetti ubriachi or drunken spaghetti because the pasta is cooked with sangiovese (aka Chianti) in the pasta water as well as in the sauce. Most recipes still call for doing that; even David Tanis puts some wine in the pot. But I say that is a waste. If you are opening a bottle for this, drink a cupful and use the rest in the sauce. Or use leftover wine. Use any pasta shape you have. Get the bacon out of the freezer or omit it if you don’t have any (or use pancetta). God knows you don’t want to have to go to the grocery store.

adapted from David Tanis

1 bottle (750-ml) dry red wine, such as merlot, pinot noir or Chianti, or leftover red wine (2 to 2-1/2 cups)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 slices thick (butcher) bacon, cut in half lengthwise then crosswise into strips
1/2 large red onion, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
pinch of red-pepper flakes
1 tablespoon tomato paste
kosher salt
1 pound spaghetti, penne, or other pasta
2 tablespoons butter
about ½ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Open the wine and measure out 1 cup to add to the pasta water or to drink. Set the remaining wine or leftover wine aside. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat, adding the cup of red wine if you want.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a wide saute pan or skillet over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook, stirring, until browned but not crispy. Transfer with a slotted spoon to a paper towel. Add the onion to the pan and cook, stirring, until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, red-pepper flakes, and tomato paste, and stir to blend. Add the reserved red wine, bring to a boil, and cook until wine is reduced by half, about 10 minutes. Turn off heat.

When the pasta water boils, add a large handful of salt to the pot then add the pasta and cook until very al dente — 2 to 3 minutes less than it says on the package. Scoop out 1 cup of pasta water with a measuring cup and set it aside. Drain the pasta and add it to the pan with the red wine sauce; turn the heat on under the pan to medium-high and stir in the reserved pasta water. Cook, stirring well, until the liquid is absorbed and pasta is cooked through but still al dente, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the butter, reserved bacon, and half the cheese and stir really well to create a glossy sauce. Divide pasta among warm bowls and sprinkle remaining cheese on top. Serve.