Want to see something really scary?!

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summary: wine pasta with ham, peas and mint in optional cream sauce based on a recipe in “Piano Piano Pieno” by Susan McKenna Grant; tastes great but looks s~c~a~r~y; information about UNICEF: please remember that even though the children no longer carry UNICEF boxes, donations are still welcome; (click on images for larger views and more photos)

jackolantern in rain ©ejm2006 gif cue sound effects

Two years ago, for Hallowe’en we presented ghoulish fingers. This year, we’re not quite sure what this stuff looks like. But….

want to see something really scary?!

These photos have actually been lurking in the “to post” files for quite a while.

Bwa ha hahahaa!!! It was an experiment. An experiment gone bad.

In her cookbook Piano Piano Pieno Susan McKenna Grant described some pasta she made using wine rather than water to make the dough.

Pasta Fresca Ubriaca al Chianti
Fresh Pasta, Drunk on Chianti, with Peas and Pancetta

This recipe produces lovely wine-colored pasta. Served against a back-drop of cream, bright green peas, pancetta and fresh mint, it produces a pretty dish that is easy to make and very elegant.

-Susan McKenna Grant, “Piano Piano Pieno”, p.186

Sounds good, doesn’t it? And it seemed like a good idea. Really it did. To me anyway.

T wasn’t so convinced but being the wonderful guy he is, he gamely tried it. Simply because I asked him to.

And it was… WELL… I have to tell the truth.

Bwa ha hahahaa!!! “Drunk on Chianti”, eh? I’m not so sure. Oh my. …I think we weren’t quite drunk enough.

Bwa ha hahahaa!!! The pasta was way too sticky. It was basically the texture of overdone pasta before being cooked. :lalala:

Now, this might have been partially due to the addition of a little olive oil to the dough. We’ve never done that before. Errrmmmm, we’re never going to do that again.

Bwa ha hahahaa!!!

However, the sauce was absolutely delicious. We’ll definitely have it again on regular fresh pasta. Just forget latching onto some foofy idea of using wine instead of water to make “lovely ruby to violet dough”. Brrrrrr.

Pasta with Peas, Ham and Mint
based on Pasta Fresca Ubriaca al Chianti in “Piano Piano Pieno” by Susan McKenna Grant

nope, no measurements… you’ll have to wing it

  • bechamel, optional
  • olive oil, sliced
  • onion
  • good smoky ham, sliced
  • green peas
  • seasalt and pepper
  • fresh pasta, cut into linguine
  • fresh mint, chiffonaded


  1. sauce(s) Make a thinnish bechamel sauce, if using, in a frying pan. Set aside.
  2. Heat olive oil in a frying pan at medium heat. Coarsely chop the onion and add to the pan to saute until just turning gold.
  3. Cut the ham into bite-sized pieces. Add to the onions and continue to fry until the ham has shrunk and is chewy but not too brown. Throw in peas (we use frozen) and stir to cover each pea with oil. Add salt and pepper. Turn the heat down to a low simmer to keep warm.
  4. pasta Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Throw in pasta and cook just until the pasta is al dente. (This could be as little as a minute.)
  5. put it together WITH bechamel Warm bechamel.
  6. Drain the pasta. Toss it gently in the bechamel to cover each strand. Distribute evenly on warmed plates. Top with the ham and peas.
  7. put it together WITHOUT bechamel Drain the pasta. Toss it in the ham and peas mixture to cover each strand with oil. Distribute evenly on warmed plates.
  8. Garnish with mint.

Serve immediately!

Bwa ha hahahaa!!! We tried the pasta again a couple of nights later without the cream sauce to see if maybe it would improve the looks. Hmmm, not much better. However, let me stress that in spite of the garish looks, this was delicious!

Coloring [the pasta] offset[s] the vibrant green of my spring peas. […] Naturally, this dish can be prepared using dried pasta or […] fresh pasta […] but then you won’t get the artist’s palette on the plate these burgundy-colored noodles produce.

-Susan McKenna Grant, “Piano Piano Pieno”, p.187

I don’t know. Maybe it’s because the Sangiovese we used to make the pasta wasn’t actually from Chianti?

Take my advice. Forget about having an artist’s palette on the plate! Make this without colouring the pasta. That way, you can turn on a few lights in the dining room.

Because peas, ham and mint on pasta is absolutely delicious.

October 31: National UNICEF Day

I still find it a little unnerving that UNICEF boxes are no longer distributed in Canada. But, of course, that doesn’t mean that UNICEF and Hallowe’en don’t go together. Canadian school children (and their parents and teachers) can still help to build a better future for children.

UNICEF Canada and the Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF campaign is bringing hope for the future by supporting the Schools for Africa programme in two specific countries: Malawi and Rwanda. Together with our global partners, UNICEF’s Schools for Africa programme aims to enable one million children in Malawi and Rwanda to go to school.

Please read about how to donate to UNICEF:



This entry was posted in food & drink, main course, pasta, posts with recipes, starter on by .

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1 response to “Want to see something really scary?!

  1. katie

    I always put olive oil in the dough when I make pasta….
    Never tried it with wine, though. Just found my Pasta Queen (which I’ve had for more years than I care to admit – the good thing about mechanical equipment – it lasts) and I’ve been inspired…. Now I feel challenged….

    Interesting. We never put in olive oil (except for this one time) and love the pasta we make. We also love our pasta maker! Those hand-crank machines sure are great, aren’t they? With zero electronics and zero computer chips, they just don’t break down.
    Looking forward to hearing if you feel the need to turn the lights off when eating your pasta made with red wine rather than water as well, Katie. -Elizabeth


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