I'm obsessed with this dish because it manages to be outstandingly simple (made almost entirely of pantry staples) but also a winner in flavor and gorgeousness. It's a go-to weeknight dish because it's quick and easy, as well as a dinner party standby for its show-stopping beauty and knockout taste.
Technique tip: Err on the side of over-salting the pasta water (versus under-salting); the starchy pasta water will make these noodles will emulsify with the fats in the oil and cheese and create a silky sauce!
Swap option: Any kind of red wine works well; rosé, however, will not work.
- coarse sea salt
- 12 ounces dried spaghetti
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 4 small cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 cup red wine
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese, plus more for serving
- 1/4 cup finely chopped nuts (I like pine nuts, walnuts or almonds)
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- parsley sprigs, for garnish
Fill a large pot three-quarters full of water and bring it to a boil over medium-high heat. Add a generous amount of coarse salt (the adage "It should taste like the sea" is a good gauge of how much). Cook the spaghetti for 2 minutes less than the instructions on the package for al dente. (You don't want it to be completely cooked because it will continue cooking in the red wine later.)2.
While the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil in a large, high-sided pan over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring, for 1 minute, or until the garlic becomes fragrant. Pour the wine into the pan with the garlic and stir. Remove from the heat while the pasta finishes cooking.3.
Drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of the pasta water.4.
Add the pasta to the pan with the wine and garlic over medium heat and stir. Cook, occasionally stirring gently, for 2 minutes, or until the pasta is al dente and has absorbed most of the wine, taking on a plum hue.5.
Remove the pan from the heat and mix in the cheese and nuts. Stir in a tablespoon (or more) of the reserved pasta water; its starchiness mixes with the fat in the cheese to create a silky coating on the noodles. Finish with the nutmeg, season with salt and pepper and stir to incorporate well. Taste and adjust the seasoning if you think the dish is asking for it.6.
Serve garnished with parsley and topped with more cheese, and enjoy slurping down the drunken noodles.