Don’t you just love meals you can make in the snap, but taste like you cooked all day?
I work three part-time jobs at the moment (long story) and I also attend culinary school at night, so I understand and adore quick meals that do not taste quick. What makes this pasta sauce so tasty is the addition of a little zinfandel. Now, we are not talking that prissy white zinfandel (and if you like that wine, sorry!), we are talking a robust, meaty zinfandel. It stands up to the acidic tomatoes really well and rounds out the sauce.
It is a hearty sauce so I served mine over rigatoni, but just about any shape pasta will work. On top I added a bit of ricotta cheese. I love that I can have cheese in some bites and not in others. Add a little fresh torn basil and a grating of parmesan cheese and you have dinner!
Pasta with Zinfandel Tomato Sauce and Ricotta Serves 4
8 ounces Rigatoni, or other tube pasta
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 cup diced onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon crusted red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon dry oregano
1/2 teaspoon dry thyme
1/4 teaspoon ground fennel
1 teaspoon sugar
1 – 14 ounce can crushed tomatoes
1/4 cup zinfandel (I used Ravenswood Vintner’s Blend)
2 tablespoons basil, roughly torn
Fresh grated parmesan cheese
Heat the olive oil in a medium sauce pan over medium heat. Once it begins to shimmer add the onion and cook until it starts to soften, about five minutes. Add the garlic and cool until fragrant, about thirty seconds.
Add the tomato paste and stir until well combined. Cook until the tomato paste begins to darken in color, about three minutes.
Add the red pepper flakes, oregano, thyme, and fennel. Cook for three minutes then add the tomatoes and stir, making sure to scrape the bottom well. Reduce the heat to medium low and allow to simmer until it is reduced by 1/3, about twenty minutes.
While the sauce reduces cook the pasta according to the package directions in very salty water.
Add the zinfandel and cook for five minutes.
Serve the pasta with the torn basil and a dollop of ricotta cheese. Garnish with parmesan cheese, if desired.
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