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My Winter Flu Soup was such an unexpected hit, I figured it’s only right to keep the food trend going with a hearty pasta dish. Make no holiday mistake about it, this is a wintry meal and it’s made to be enjoyed in your coziest wool socks and old, soft sweatshirt as you twirl the delicate strands of pasta around your fork, listening to the crackling of a lazily burning wood fire in a tiny log cabin tucked somewhere amid the majestic mountains of Colorado; maybe Nat King Cole music softly plays, maybe the air smells of gingerbread and pine, maybe fallen snow lays silent and hushed just beyond your frosted windows … Or not. Because you can also eat this pasta in your cereal bowl on your couch as you take in the scent of your two-days unwashed hair. (Trust me, it’ll taste just as delicious.)
Here’s the recipe … 

Melissa’s Pasta with Basil & Chives in Jalapeño Red Wine Reduction Sauce

Serves: 2 (or 1 very hungry person)


1 handful of your favorite pasta – I like to use extra-thin, organic spaghetti but it’s really whatever floats yo’ boat.
1 tsp. butter – or a nice, little pat of butter if you don’t feel like being super precise.
1/4 c. olive oil – again, who cares about being precise? This is cooking, people! Just keep the bottle of olive oil close and make sure it’s somewhat full and you’ll be good.
1/4 cup red wine – and by 1/4 cup I mean however much you feel like because wine.
4-5 shiitake mushrooms – thinly (and I mean thinly!) sliced lengthwise.
1 jalapeño – diced and de-seeded, though if you’re feeling bold keep as many seeds as your boldness allows.
1/2 c. cherry tomatoes – sliced in half, pretty please.
3 cloves of garlic – rough chopped.
small handful of fresh chives – diced.
1/3 cup fresh basil – rough chopped (also, feel free to approximate and not actually sit there trying to measure basil because that seems like a pointless endeavor and how can you really measure basil?)
1/2 tsp. red chili flakes
1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 c. shaved Parmesan cheese (or for those who like variety, I recommend using shaved Pecorino Romano).
Salt and pepper – to taste.


  1. Bring 2 cups of water (with a generous amount of salt and a few drops of olive oil) to a boil. Once boiling, add pasta.
  2. In a separate pan, melt butter in 1/4 c. olive oil. Add garlic until you can smell the aroma of garlic. Then, using a spatula, remove garlic and set aside. (Why? Well, there’s nothing like the taste of burned garlic to ruin a perfectly delectable meal.)
  3. Once the butter is melted, add mushrooms and jalapeño. Cook until mushrooms get slightly browned.
  4. Add tomatoes and red wine. Cook another 2-3 minutes until red wine reduces in the pan.
  5. Add garlic back in but only allow to cook another minute then TURN OFF THE HEAT! (See above point about charred garlic.) Also, add salt and pepper to the whole thing and stir to combine.
  6. At this point, your pasta should be done. I use thin pasta so it takes about 10 minutes to cook to the exact doneness I want but figure out yo pasta timing and boil accordingly. (I recommend tasting a strand after 10 minutes and if it’s still not done, leave in another minute or two. Yes, just one minute or two more. Trust me, you don’t want overcooked, goopy pasta on your hands.)
  7. Strain pasta and place in bowls. IMMEDIATELY add grated parmesan cheese, chives and a little cracked pepper. (I mean, why not?) This “IMMEDATIELY add” bit is a tip I learned from the great Giada De Laurentiis, who apparently got it from her famous grandpa, famed Italian film producer, Dino De Laurentiis. As her story goes, when the pasta is still in its sticky, just-boiled state, the cheese and such adheres to it much better than just sprinkling the Parm on top like some amateur pasta-dish maker, which we most are definitely not. OK, next step …
  8. Add mushroom/jalapeño/red wine sauce to your pasta.
  9. Sprinkle shaved Parmesan (or Pecorino Romano if you got fancy) over the top of the pasta and drizzle with a bit of olive oil. Finish with a touch of cracked pepper.
  10. Add chopped basil and then also one sprig of basil leaves that is un-chopped, which should be placed artistically in the center of the dish in order to make everyone think you’re an awesome, amazing, spectacular cook because of said basil sprig and anyway, why should they think otherwise? Let’s face it … you are.

Happy pasta-ing!
Xo, Melis

Melissa Kandel is a Southern California-based writer and the founder/president of little word studio. If you really want, you can follow little word studio on Instagram here.

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