Red Wine + Pasta= True Love

I love pasta. I don’t know if it’s my Italian roots or the fact that you can put pretty much anything in it and have it taste good, or something else… whatever it is, pasta makes life better. I also love red wine. One of my favorites is Seven Deadly Zins (it’s a red zinfandel by the Lodi Brothers).

Last night I had some time to make dinner and decided that pasta was a must. I was dying to make a nice chunky tomato sauce….and that’s what I did. Here’s the recipe:

Red Zin Tomato Sauce:

serves 6 people

What you’ll need: 

Main Cast of Characters (I added a few things after taking this)

1 to 2 tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 medium-large onion

2 cloves garlic

1 large can of whole peeled tomatoes

Red Zinfandel (or your favorite type of red wine)

A few basil leaves (about a tbsp.)

1 small can of tomato paste (I think it’s normally 10 oz.)

2 tsp. parsley

1 tsp. oregano


1 package Italian Style Chicken Sausage (I use Bilinski’s-it’s pre-cooked) or your favorite kind of meat

A few good cranks of black pepper

A pinch of salt

What to do:

Chop onion, garlic, and basil. Set aside.

In a large skillet/pot, add olive oil, bring to medium heat. Add onions, cook until softened.

*Note: if you are using meat besides pre-cooked chicken sausage, cook it first, drain off any excess oils and set aside, then cook your onions*

In the mean time, chop up your chicken sausage-if you’re using it.

Add garlic and chicken sausage to the pan. Let cook for a few minutes, stirring once or twice.

Pour in can of tomatoes-do not drain!

Using your spoon, crush tomatoes up, leaving a few chunks (If you don’t like chunks, you can also puree the tomatoes before adding them to the pan.) and stir into mixture.

After a few minutes, add a few good glugs of wine (I’d say somewhere between half and three quarters of a cup) and stir.

Next, add in your can of tomato paste and the basil.

Stir the mixture until combined. Sprinkle in oregano and parsley. If needed, add salt and pepper.

Reduce heat to low and let simmer for 10-15 minutes (until some of the liquid is evaporated), stirring occasionally. *For a more intense flavor, let simmer longer-just be sure to stir once in a while to avoid burning. 

Serve hot over pasta- I used whole wheat penne with milled flax seed. Top with Parmesan cheese…or maybe some of that homemade ricotta? Dream come true!

This sauce is savory enough that it can be made without meat, while still being versatile enough to pair with chicken, beef or sausage. The sky’s the limit!

Topped with some mozz... yummo!

Fridge Emptying Goulash!

I have been having a lot of fun lately. Whether it be ice skating, updating my food journal, planning a workout, perusing food blogs, watching old 3rd Rock episodes with Ben, cooking/destroying my kitchen, watching Ben cook and not destroy the kitchen or working too much,  I’m having a good time. In short, 2012 has been good so far. No complaints on my end.

As you know, I go through food phases. For some reason, the last few weeks have been missing meat. It wasn’t intentional and I’m not complaining, it just worked out that we ate a lot of veggies/beans. As much as I love my veggies,  I am ready for some beefy deliciousness.

This weekend I finally had some red meat; Ben made this crazy good (and super easy!) goulash. Basically, it was a mish-mash of what we had in our fridge. It was also a one-pan meal. The best kind.

Here is what he did, I apologize for not having exact measurements …or photos, as I was just watching Ben work his magic.

Fridge Emptying Goulash

To start, Ben chopped up a couple of carrots, a tomato and 2 cloves of garlic (normally, we would add onion, too… but for some crazy reason, we were out) and threw them in the trusty iron skillet with some olive oil over medium-low to medium heat.

After a few minutes, he added a pound of (local, grass-fed) ground beef. He browned it, stirring occasionally.

Once the meat was browned, he added in some leftover tomato sauce,  maybe a cup or so?  After stirring, he put in one small can of Muir Glen (Organic) tomato paste.

For seasoning, he kept it simple; cracked pepper, onion powder (due to the lack of chopped onion), marjoram, some chili sauce (a few tbsp.) and some smokey paprika. This can be adjusted according to your own tastes.

He let everything simmer for a few minutes and added about half a can of V8-as much as I love V8 juice, I was unsure about this. Thank God I trust Ben’s judgment. 

After the V8, he gave one more stir and let it cook a little longer-covered, until the carrots were tender.

We served it over pasta with a dollop of sour cream and a few slices of Cabot pepper jack.  So good.