Main Dishes

“Drunken” Pasta with Green Herbs and European Butter

Pasta absorbs the deep color of red wine for a dish that’s sure to surprise and delight.


15 minutes


20 minutes






  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 large onions, halved lengthwise, then very thinly sliced crosswise
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 bottle (750ml) full-bodied red wine, such as Zinfandel or Syrah, divided
  • 1 Tablespoon plus ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 lb dried imported linguini or spaghetti
  • 6 ounces (1 ½ sticks) Salted Challenge European Style butter, cut into 12 pieces
  • 1 ¼ cups (about 5 oz) finely grated Pecorino or Parmesan cheese
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 ¼ cups snipped chives
  • ¼ cup roughly chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 2 Tablespoons roughly chopped flat leaf parsley leaves (optional)


  • 1
    In a very large skillet with a tight-fitting lid, warm the olive oil over low heat and add ¼ cup water. Add the onions, cover the pan, and stir occasionally until onions are softened, about 10 minutes. Add the bay leaves, pepper flakes, and 2 ½ cups of the wine. Cover the pan and simmer gently, stirring occasionally, until the onions are very soft, about 15 minutes.
  • 2
    While the onion/wine mixture is simmering, bring about 4 quarts of water to a boil and add the remaining wine and 1 tablespoon salt. Add the pasta and simmer for 5 to 6 minutes or half the recommended cooking time (see tip below). Drain in a colander, reserving ½ cup of the pasta water.
  • 3
    Dump the drained pasta and reserved pasta water into the pan of simmering wine and onions and bring to a gentle simmer. Cover the pan and allow to simmer, tossing with tongs frequently, until the liquid thickens and the pasta is al dente and most of the wine is absorbed, 6 to 8 minutes. Quickly pull out and discard the bay leaves.
  • 4
    Remove the pan from the heat and add the butter, grated cheese, ½ teaspoon salt, black pepper, and herbs. Toss to coat the pasta thoroughly until the butter pieces are melted. Serve immediately.
  •  !
    For the first cooking of the pasta in Step 2, allow about one-half of the total recommended cooking time. The pasta will finish cooking in the “sauce,” where it will absorb lots of flavor from the wine, and the wine/onion mixture will be enriched and thickened by the starch remaining in the pasta.