Have you ever wondered what pasta looks like if you cook it entirely in red wine? I was curious and, since I worked at a winery, had access to some good red wine that was left over from a festival. This was my opportunity to cook some corkscrew pasta in red wine, so I ran with it!
I decided to make a very basic recipe using chicken breasts and corkscrew pasta. I diced the breasts into thick 1″ cubes and sauteed them in a small amount of butter and a touch of olive oil until they were nicely browned and thoroughly cooked. This recipe was going to be my first go-round, so I wanted everything to be very simple and “clean”, so I wasn’t playing with lots of extra flavors… I really wanted the taste of the wine to shine.
In a stockpot, I poured a bottle of red wine and a box of corkscrew pasta together and let the pasta cook in the wine until it was done to al dente’. Since the pasta had cooked in the wine, there was a nice amount of starch in the cooking liquid, so I ladled some in with the chicken to create a bit of a sauce and added a pat of butter to gloss the sauce. The only addition to the sauce after this was some salt and pepper to taste… it was delicious! I served it with some lightly steamed broccoli for color, but the dinner was grand. Deep purple in color from the wine, everything looked and tasted just as I’d hoped. Score one for the cook!
The bonus came when I realized that cooking an entire box of pasta made too much for two people to eat in one sitting. A day or two later, my cousins came by unexpectedly and I needed to throw a quick, late night dinner together for them. Since they weren’t looking for a three course meal, I decided to make a quick pasta salad to tide them over for the night. I had rolls that I could slice up and serve as garlic toasts on the side, so I set about creating a new Leftover Recipe from the red pasta.
Since I had saved the red pasta in a plastic bag, I just had to add a few ingredients that I had on hand: frozen fresh corn off the cob, frozen peas, finely diced onions, one can of Veg-all, and some italian salad dressing that I had in the fridge. I ran the frozen veggies under hot water in a colander so they would thaw and then dried them off before adding them to the pasta. The canned veggies included carrots and potatoes, so that added just enough extra colors to the salad to make it look great. I also had one extra cooked chicken breast that I diced fairly fine and added it into the pasta salad as well. It was a great leftover meal that would have been terrific for a picnic or as a complete meal with a burger or steak.
Never discount what you’ve got in your fridge… remember that the most expensive ingredient is one that you throw away, so try and find a use, no matter how obscure, for anything you bring home. Food can be a challenge but it can also be a lot of fun! Enjoy creating your own bonus meals…