Red Wine Pasta Salad
Disclosure: Thank you to ALDI for sponsoring this post.
I do a lot of reading. If it’s not a murder mystery, it’s something food related. And while I’m trying to relax when I read, if it’s about food, it inevitably becomes a brainstorming session. In a recent magazine feature in Saveur I was pulled into a feature on drunken spaghetti from Italy. Apparently, cooking spaghetti in red wine is incredibly common. Being May with Memorial Day and summer outings around the corner, I kept thinking… “Can I make this a cold pasta salad?”. So that’s what we’re making today. It’s drunken cold pasta salad, and it’s going to make you rethink the way you cook pasta.
The main challenge of taking this favorite recipe and melding it with red wine is flavor pairings. Red wine is typically a beef kind of pairing situation. Pasta salad is not something that usually has beef. What we settled on was red wine pasta tossed with in a mustard dressing with bacon, Swiss chard, goat cheese and chickpeas. It worked out to be the right amount of ‘meatiness’ with veggies and it is beautiful cold. Also, it’s delicious warm if you can’t wait. I’m not the most patient person, but I’m working on it.
Having a staple dish and rethinking it can be 50% uncomfortable (you have a routine, why change it?) and 50% inspiring and interesting. That’s how I am with grocery shopping. I have a routine. It’s very efficient. I have the store totally laid out in my head and that’s what I do. So when ALDI invited me to dinner in DC the other week to try their products (cooked by the head chef at Mintwood Place OMG) and learn about the brand, I ended up learning a lot. And as I told the ALDI team, “You guys are kind of making me nervous because I think you’re about to make me ruin my grocery routine.”
ALDI is a German-based grocer that does things VERY differently. In a way that really resonates with me, ALDI figured out how to reduce prices to the consumer by eliminating excess and hidden costs that come with most groceries. YES. Why are more stores not doing this? So much typical shopping research goes into profitable consumer habits and the experiential surroundings that grocery stores sometimes forget a big factor: price. And most importantly, the resulting product is not ‘discount’ or ‘cheap’. What I ended up finding out is the ALDI product is honestly better than what I was getting at my high-end grocery store while being less expensive.
Here’s how they can do it: ALDI is about 1/3 the size of a standard store. That’s because everything in the store is curated to guarantee quality and price. There aren’t seven kinds of the same product. They curate the best version and only the most popular products in the most popular sizes. That means you shop faster and have less decision fatigue.
You’re also going to see lots of organic, cage-free, antibiotic-free, etc. products. And up to 90% of what’s in the store are ALDI exclusive brands instead of national brands that cost up to 50% less. Again, this might make you think it’s ‘lower quality,’ but it’s WILDLY BETTER than the national brands in my opinion. I do not say this lightly: the chocolate, wine, snacks and produce are better than I am currently buying at my routine store. WHAT!? Oh and the meat. THE MEAT! I bought the best salmon I have had in ages from ALDI. It was ridiculously fresh, high quality and beautiful (the scales were gorgeous).
But before you go to ALDI, I really want you to be prepared because if you go in thinking it’s going to be like your standard grocery experience, you might be surprised. That means you need to know a few things. First, bring a quarter. I know. Who carries change anymore? But the quarter (that you get back) releases a shopping cart. This reduces the amount of damage and stealing of carts that would eventually be carried through to the consumer in product prices. Also, bring your own reusable bags and know you’re going to bag your own stuff at a table after the cashier puts it in the cart. I actually LOVE this. You know why? Because even though I put things on the checkout belt at other grocery stores in a logical order for packing to save the fragile things, inevitably the cashier at those stores does not care and crushes my brioche under a bag of rice. I should also add, typically I’m shopping for a photoshoot, so you know, the way things look matters to me.
Okay. Now onto the recipe. What I’m hoping you take away from this recipe is thinking about different liquids you can cook your pasta in to heighten the flavor. Why are we not using broths, stocks, or today, wines to add layers of flavor to pasta?
Red Wine Pasta Salad
serves: 6 // prep time: 15 minutes // cook time: 20 (plus 1-2 hours to refrigerate if desired)
- 12 oz Reggano Farfalle
- 1/8 cup SimplyNature Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 3 cups Viña Fuerte Tempranillo Red Wine
- 4 oz Happy Farms Preferred Goat Cheese, crumbled
- 4 strips Specially Selected Center Cut Bacon, cooked and chopped
- 2 cups chiffonade Swiss chard
- 1 green onion, white and light green part sliced
- 3/4 cup Dakota’s Pride Garbanzo Beans, rinsed
- 2 tablespoons whole grain mustard
- 2 tablespoons SimplyNature Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Stonemill Sea Salt and Ground Black Pepper
- 2 tablespoons drained wine from pasta cooking
Bring water to a boil and salt. Add pasta and cook for 3 minutes. Drain. In a large skillet with high sides, cook olive oil with minced garlic until it becomes fragrant. Pour in the wine and bring to a simmer. Add pasta. Cook an additional 5-6 minutes until al dente. Drain and reserve 2 tablespoons of wine for pasta salad dressing. Cool pasta and prepare remaining ingredients.
Cook chiffonade Swiss chard in olive oil, butter or residual bacon fat for 1-2 minutes or until greens and stems are softened. Remove from heat and set aside. To make dressing, whisk ingredients together in a bowl. Pour over pasta and toss to combine. Add goat cheese, bacon, Swiss chard, green onion and chickpeas to the pasta. Toss and cool or serve immediately.
Dietitian Nutritionist. My husband Chris and I create food and beverage photos, videos, stopmotions and recipes. And they're really cool.