Drunken Spaghetti: Pasta sautéed with red wine easy to prepare, big on flavor and delicious
If you're looking for a good reason to open a bottle of red wine, or have been wondering what to do with that half-empty bottle you opened several days ago, then Tony's recipe for Drunken Spaghetti is for you.
If you’re looking for a good reason to open a bottle of red wine, or have been wondering what to do with that half-empty bottle you opened several days ago, then Tony’s recipe for Drunken Spaghetti is for you. There was a time when neither of these scenarios would have been necessary for us to indulge in a little vino, but parenting a young son often means foregoing the good stuff in favor or something a bit softer.
Drunken Spaghetti is one of my favorite pasta dishes, not only because it provides a good excuse to enjoy a glass of wine, but also because it is easy to prepare, big on flavor and delicious. In Italy, a pasta dish is traditionally served as the “primo piatto,” or first plate, coming just after the antipasto course, and before the heavier, protein-based “secondo piatto,” or second plate. Drunken Spaghetti would fare well as a primo, but we typically enjoy it as a lighter dinner option with a simple salad of mixed greens tossed in a simple, red wine vinaigrette.
Next to the pasta, red wine is the main ingredient in this dish. Any red wine will work, but Tony prefers either an Italian Chianti or an American Zinfandel, as they provide just the right level of sweetness to the sauce. This recipe calls for at least two and a half cups, leaving approximately one full serving (from a full bottle) to enjoy with your dinner.
The alcohol cooks off during the process, which means that you won’t feel any effects from the wine in the pasta. This also makes it safe for kids to eat, but we’ve found that the sophisticated style and flavor of this dish lend itself to more of an adult audience.
Drunken Spaghetti is essentially just a vamped-up version of the classic “aglio-oglio” (garlic and olive oil) pasta dish. Unlike a tomato-based sauce, a garlic and olive oil-based sauce is light and uncomplicated, meant just to coat the noodles. The addition of shallots and anchovies adds layers of subtle flavor, which is balanced by the sweetness of the red wine. Anchovies are a typical Sicilian pantry item, but you could also use cooked bacon or pancetta as a substitute. Capers or Kalamata olives would also work well.
You’ll need one large pot and one large sauce pan, as the pasta is first boiled in salted water, and then finished by sautéing in the red wine. To prevent the pasta from becoming mushy, we recommend shortening the initial boiling time suggested on its package by about 3 to 4 minutes. Save a cup or two of the cooking liquid to use later if needed.
The noodles take on a lovely, light red tone as they cook in the wine, but if you prefer a deeper hue you could add the wine to the pot of boiling water, or increase the amount of wine used. If the pasta begins to dry up as it cooks in the red wine, simply add some of the reserved cooking liquid to the pan.
For a heartier version, cook a few spicy Italian sausages, slice them into pieces and toss them with the pasta just before serving. Drunken Spaghetti would also pair nicely with a big, juicy steak; however, with its red wine base, we’d stay away from pairing it with seafood.
Serve with a loaf of crusty bread and some Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and enjoy!
The Lost Italian’s Drunken Spaghetti
Serves: 2 to 4
1 pound spaghetti
⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced (equal to 1 tablespoon)
2 tablespoons shallots, small-diced
4-5 anchovy fillets (packed in oil), finely chopped
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2½ cups red wine (Chianti or zinfandel are perfect)
¼ cup fresh parsley or basil, or both, finely chopped
1 cup fresh Parmesan cheese, grated
Season a pot of boiling water with 1 to 2 tablespoons of salt and cook the spaghetti according to the directions on the package, reducing the cooking time by approximately 3 to 4 minutes.
In a large sauté pan (4-5 quart), add olive oil and shallots and cook over medium heat for one minute. Add the garlic, anchovies, red pepper flakes and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes over medium heat.
Add the red wine and cook for one minute. Then, add the cooked pasta and cook for approximately 5 minutes, until the red wine has reduced and achieved a sauce-like consistency. It should coat the back of spoon when ready.
Add the fresh herbs and Parmesan cheese and toss until mixed in. Serve on a large platter and garnish with more cheese if desired.