Monday, October 25, 2010

Red Wine Pasta with Walnuts: Recipe for World Pasta Day

Red Wine Pasta recipe
Pasta is my comfort food. It makes me happy to eat it, to cook it and even to look at it. I love all kinds of noodles from Italian to Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese and even Spanish noodles. I love the texture and the way noodles are chameleon-like, absorbing flavors and reflecting all kinds of cultures. Noodles have something to say, whether lowly instant ramen or handmade fettuccine tossed with butter and shavings of truffle. I have written about noodles many times and am always glad to participate in anything pasta related and this time, it's World Pasta Day!

I would not stop eating pasta for any reason, but it is good to know that pasta is not an "evil starch" but actually is a slowly absorbed carbohydrate, that has a low glycemic index. That means it does not cause sugar in the blood to rise as quickly as many other foods. Studies have shown that when eaten in healthy portions, pasta does not lead to weight gain, may be beneficial for those with diabetes, may reduce the risk of breast cancer, lower the risk of Type 2 diabetes and may reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease, prostate cancer. You can read more about it and see links to the medical research in Pasta for All.

I was looking for something new to do with pasta and I came across something not so new. It's a recipe that has been floating around in various incarnations for years. In my usual manner I looked at several recipes and mixed and matched until the recipe worked best for me. I don't want to say this recipe is weird, but cooking spaghetti in red wine gives it an unusual color and flavor. In addition to pasta, this recipe features red wine, walnuts, garlic and olive oil in it, so you can eat it for health or eat it because it tastes good! It has a very earthy and slight spicy flavor and is very pretty on the plate. The new plate by the way is from Villeroy & Boch. They sent me a couple of pieces to play with and I just love them.

Red Wine Pasta with WalnutsServes 4


1 pound spaghetti
3 cups fruity red wine
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 small garlic cloves, minced
Pinch of crushed red pepper, or to taste, but don't use too much!
1/2 cup finely chopped parsley
1/2 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for serving


Cook pasta in a pot of salted boiling water for 2 minutes. Drain then return the pasta to the pot and add the wine. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring from time to time, until wine is just about completely absorbed, 7 to 8 minutes.

Meanwhile in a dry skillet, toast the walnuts over medium heat for 2 minutes or until fragrant. Remove toasted nuts from the skillet and set aside. Return skillet and add the oil, heat over medium. Add the garlic and sprinkle with salt. Cook over moderate heat for 30 seconds. Add the parsley, walnuts and stir for a moment or two. Add the pasta and toss then add the cheese and continue tossing until well combined and glossy. Taste for seasonings, serve, passing additional grated cheese at the table if desired.