Pasta alla Alcohol: Penne alla Vino

Welcome to the creation of my new series: Pasta alla Alcohol! Pasta is the perfect vehicle for intoxicating your eats, and each month I will choose a new type of beverage to incorporate into a tasty pasta dish! In the works is vodka, tequila, beer, and even gin. But for now, we will start with the most basic of basics: red wine.

I tried to investigate the merits of adding red wine to pasta sauce, but I didn’t get very far. I will just take it on merit that people have been doing this for a very long time-and I certainly won’t take issue with it.

If you don’t groove on greens, just leave them out. I’m just trying to get some veggies in wherever possible. I also highly recommend dousing the finished product with parmesan cheese, and serving with some homemade garlic butter breadsticks. Yes.

Penne alla vino

Adapted from Ina Garten

16 oz. pasta

1 medium sized onion

4 garlic cloves

1/2 cup red wine

28 oz. can tomatoes, I like crushed tomatoes or tomato sauce

1-2 tablespoons Italian seasoning

1/2 teaspoon cracked red pepper

1 bunch of spinach, washed and dried

salt and pepper to taste

Bring a large pot of water to boil, add pasta and cook according to package directions. Drain and add back to the pot.

Preheat a large skillet with some olive oil and dice the onions. Cook onions over medium heat for about 8 minutes. Mince the garlic and add, cooking 1 minute. Add the red wine and turn the heat up, scraping any onion previously stuck to the pan, and allow the red wine to cook off until most of it has evaporated. Add the tomatoes and seasonings, cover and simmer for about 10 minutes. Rest the spinach on top of the sauce, as much as will fit, and put the cover back on. Let the spinach wilt down and stir it into the tomato sauce before adding more. When all of the spinach has been wilted in, check for seasonings and combine with the cooked pasta.

*If you are not into the greens, just leave them out and let the sauce simmer for about 15 minutes.

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Roasted Mushroom, Garlic, and Cauliflower Soup

Sometimes I forget that an intoxicating eat can simply be a soup with a layer of flavor added in from some wine. A simple extra step of roasting the vegetables adds so much. And roasted garlic?

Yum. Yum. and Yum!

Roasted Mushroom, Garlic, and Cauliflower Soup

Adapted from The Novice Chef and Closet Cooking

1 head cauliflower

1 pint mushrooms

1 head of garlic

2 carrots

1 medium to large onion

1/2 teaspoon of dried thyme

1 tablespoon of flour

1/2 cup white wine

4 cups of broth, vegetable or chicken

1/4 cup heavy cream

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Chop cauliflower into florets and slice mushrooms. Lay out on a baking sheet and toss with a drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper. Cut the very top of the garlic bulb off to expose the cloves, drizzle with olive oil and wrap up in aluminum foil. Roast everything for about 30 minutes.

Dice carrot and onion over medium heat in a soup pot . [You certainly could roast the carrot and onion for a fully roasted vegetable soup!] After the vegetables have softened, add flour and cook for a couple minutes. Add salt, pepper, and thyme. Add 1/4 cup of the wine to deglaze the pan, then add the remainder of the wine and broth and bring to a boil. Squeeze in the roasted garlic cloves and add the cauliflower and half of the mushrooms. Bring to a boil andl cook about 10 minutes, making sure the stalks are completely fork-tender. Take it off the heat and stir in that splash of cream. Puree and enjoy with the remainder of the mushrooms as garnish!

Drunken Pasta

Pasta cooked in wine instead of water? Genius. Pure genius.

Look at the beautiful color in that pot! We used cabernet sauvignon, but any dry red will do. Just DON’T use “cooking wine.” (What is that stuff??) One of the glorious things about this method is that you don’t need a substantial sauce-all that cabsav flavor is cooked into the pasta itself! Reinforce that flavor by using some of the cooking water. I chose to pair my pasta with mushrooms and spinach because they can soak up more of that wonderful wine.

Of course, I also recommend buying one of the larger bottles of wine, only using 3 cups in the cooking process, and enjoying a glass along with dinner. Or while you cook. Or both. With this method you end up with a deep yet subtle wine flavor that permeates the entire dish. And it’s a pretty color. Now, the real question is–what liquid will I cook my pasta in next…?

Drunken Pasta

1 750 ml bottle of red wine, or 3 cups

1 16oz. package of pasta

1 10oz. box frozen spinach

3 cloves of garlic, chopped

1 8oz. package mushrooms, sliced

1/2 tsp. cracked red pepper

parmesan cheese

Pour wine into pot and supplement with water. Bring to a boil for the pasta and cook according to package directions and drain. RESERVE SOME PASTA WATER. Defrost spinach in the microwave and squeeze out the liquid. Preheat a skillet big enough for the pasta (we’ll be adding it in later) over medium heat. Saute mushrooms in some olive oil. Add chopped garlic cloves, salt, pepper, and the cracked red pepper. Add the spinach and heat through. Add some reserved pasta water to create a sauce for the pasta, about a cup. Toss in the pasta and add more reserved water if needed. Adjust seasoning if necessary. Plate and sprinkle on parmesan cheese.