Recipe: 3-Ingredient Buttery White Wine Pasta Sauce

Recipe: 3-Ingredient Buttery White Wine Pasta Sauce

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Kelli Foster
Jul 21, 2017
(Image credit: Guy Ambrosino)

Take three basic ingredients (you get pasta water and salt as freebies), plus some comfort-food inspiration, and you've got a grown-up version of buttered noodles that's light with just a hint of indulgence. Dry white wine, a pat of butter, and nutty Parmesan come together for a light summery sauce for any pasta you're cooking up. It's a no-fuss homemade sauce you can call on any night of the week, and it doesn't need much more time or effort than it would take to heat up the jarred stuff.

(Image credit: Guy Ambrosino)

The Magic of Pasta Water

Before draining your pot of pasta, scoop out some of that starchy water — it's the key ingredient that brings this simple sauce together. Adding water to thicken a sauce sounds a little counterintuitive, but it's a trick that works like a charm. It will only work with pasta water, though — you won't get the same result with tap water.

Whisking in a scant amount of leftover pasta water to a simmering sauce adds a layer of starchiness that gives it body and a creamy texture. The sauce remains brothy, not heavy and thick, but it also takes on a lushness that is irresistible. Toss in veggies and cooked protein like grilled chicken or pork and call it dinner.

(Image credit: Guy Ambrosino)

3-Ingredient Buttery White Wine Pasta Sauce

Serves 2 to 4

8 ounces dry pasta
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to the package instructions until al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking water, drain the pasta, and set it aside.

Bring the wine to a simmer in a large skillet over medium heat. Simmer until reduced by about half, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the reserved pasta water, butter, and salt, and bring to a boil. Add the pasta, then toss to coat with the sauce. Remove from the heat and stir in the cheese. Serve immediately.

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