Friends for Dinner: Chianti Spaghetti, Pomegranate Salad, Red-Wine Chocolate Cake

Friends for Dinner | I'll Make It Myself! 1

C and I have a running joke about Will Graham giving Hannibal a copy of Vegetarian Dinner Parties as a gift because that’s what kind of snarky Murder Husband he is. For our on-going Hannibal rewatch, we served a Hannibal-inspired dinner on Valentine’s Day, which nicely coincided the origami heart scenes from Episode 1 of Season 3 (aka, Season 3: Bisexuality Intensifies, Everything is Canon, It’s Beautiful). Since the “Hanniversary” was earlier this month (April 4, 2013), now’s a good time to share. Serve it for your rewatch party!

C and I tried to evoke the aesthetic of Hannibal and his deliciously creepy dinner parties in this meal: A salad filled with jewel-like pomegranate seeds, recalling not only our introduction to Hannibal’s first meal but also the myth of Persephone; spaghetti stained red-purple with Chianti and Syrah; and a rich red-wine chocolate cake, also dotted with pomegranate seeds.

And everything here is vegetarian.

Pomegranate | I'll Make it Myself!

What I loved about this menu was that the pomegranate and wine were in multiple dishes that also paired with the wine itself. (Especially since I saved half that bottle of Chianti from the original recipe…)

Pomegranate and Parsley Salad | I'll Make it Myself!

Course 1: Salad: Pomegranate and Parsley Salad with Walnuts, Apple, and Balsamic Dressing

C makes incredible salads and dressings but since they are an intuitive cook (where I am a recipe-follower), this means salads are typically based on whatever we have and often eyeballed.  Here’s a good approximation of the salad they served, which is gluten-free and vegan.

Serves 4-6
~1 cup of Italian parsley, roughly chopped
~2 cups salad greens
1 apple, diced, with the skin on (Gala, Pink Lady, or Jonagold)
the seeds of half a pomegranate
1/2 cup of walnuts

Yield: 1/4 cup
3 TBSP good-quality extra-virgin olive oil
1 TBSP balsamic vinegar
1/5 tsp sugar
salt and pepper to taste

-large serving bowl
-serving implements


  1. Toss salad ingredients in a large serving bowl, arranging pomegranate seeds in the middle.
  2. Dress to taste.

Chianti Pasta 1| I'll Make it Myself!

Entree: Chianti Spaghetti

Adapted from “Drunken Spaghetti, Pine Nuts, Parsley” from Vegetarian Dinner Parties, p. 137.
This dish is vegan and can be gluten-free if gluten-free dry spaghetti is used. Hilariously, the authors of the cookbook suggest pairing this with a fava bean small plate. (Regrettably, favas aren’t in season yet!)
Serves 6.

1/2 bottle of Chianti, or another sturdy dry red
4 quarts water
1 lb dry spaghetti

1/2 cup olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
6 TBSP pine nuts
1 TBSP lemon zest, finely grated
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 cup of Syrah, or other dry, fruit-forward wine
3/4 cup fresh parsley leaves, minced

-large pot or stockpot
-large skillet

1. Combine the water and the 1/2 bottle of Chianti in a stockpot or large pot and bring to a boil on high heat.
2. Add the pasta and cook al dente according to the directions, about 7-9 minutes. The noodles should be stained purple but if you break one open, the center will be white in the center. Drain the pasta in a colander and set aside.
3. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat, then add the garlic and cook for about 1 minute, until it browns at the edges.
4. Add the pine nuts and cook for another minute, stirring often. (Seriously, these will burn if you’re not careful.)
5. When the pine nuts just begin to brown, stir in the lemon zest and red pepper flakes.
6. Add the Syrah (1 cup). Increase heat to high and boil rapidly for 2 minutes.
7. Add the pasta to the skillet and toss in the wine sauce for 2-3 minutes until the liquid has been absorbed.
8. Stir in the parsley and serve with a glass of the Chianti or the Syrah.

Red Wine Cake with Pomegranate Seeds | I'll Make it Myself!

Course 3: Dessert: Red Wine Chocolate Cake

Smitten Kitchen‘s “Red Wine Chocolate Cake,” made using the Syrah, and topped with whipped cream and pomegranates.

To every heart which the sweet pain doth move,
And unto which these words may now be brought
For true interpretation and kind thought,
Be greeting in our Lord’s name, which is Love.
Of those long hours wherein the stars, above,
Wake and keep watch, the third was almost nought,
When Love was shown me with such terrors fraught
As may not carelessly be spoken of.
He seemed like one who is full of joy, and had
My heart within his hand, and on his arm
My lady, with a mantle round her, slept;
Whom (having wakened her) anon he made
To eat that heart; she ate, as fearing harm.
Then he went out; and as he went, he wept. (Rossetti translation)

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