3 Easy Pasta Dishes When You Have No Idea What to Make For Dinner

We all have those nights where we haven’t made a plan for dinner, haven’t gone grocery shopping, and don’t really FEEL like cooking…before reaching for the phone to order a pizza, I’m saving you with 3 easy pasta dishes that use ingredients you should already have in your pantry. Dinner? DONE!

Recipe 1: Pasta in Tomato and Onion Sauce

Ingredients

  • 1 Onion, cut in half

  • 5 Tbsp Butter

  • 1 28-oz can of imported tomatoes (or 2 smaller cans is fine) (crushed or petite diced is best)

  • 1 lb Pasta such as Spaghetti or Penne

  • Salt and Pepper to taste

  • Optional: Grated Parmesan Cheese and Crusty Bread

Directions

  1. Add the crushed tomatoes, butter and onion to a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, then turn the heat to low and simmer VERY slowly for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season as you see fit with salt and pepper to taste.

  2. Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to a boil and cook the pasta until al dente, according to package instructions. Drain.

  3. When the sauce is done, add the pasta to the saucepan and stir. Serve with optional grated parmesan on top and crusty bread on the side.

Wine Pairing: Sangiovese, Chianti, or Barbera


Recipe 2: Pasta in Cream and Butter Sauce

Ingredients

  • 1 lb Pasta such as Linguine or Fettuccine

  • 1 Cup Heavy Cream, divided

  • 2/3 Cup Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese, divided plus more for serving

  • 2 Tbsp Butter (make it good quality for best result)

  • Salt and Pepper to taste

  • Optional: freshly grated nutmeg to taste

Directions

  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil and cook the pasta until al dente, according to package instructions. Drain.

  2. Add 2/3 Cup of the heavy cream and all of the butter into a large saucepan and turn the stove to medium heat. Cook and stir together until the butter has just melted and the cream has thickened up. Turn off the heat.

  3. Add the drained pasta to the butter and cream and turn the heat to low. Toss the pasta until thoroughly coated. Add the remaining 1/3 Cup heavy cream, the 2/3 Cup Parmesan, and salt and pepper to taste. If you have nutmeg, grate just a pinch over the pasta.

  4. Serve with grated Parmesan on top.

Wine Pairing: Oaked Chardonnay


Recipe 3: Lemon-Garlic Spaghetti

Ingredients

  • 1 lb Pasta, such as Spaghetti or Angel Hair

  • 2 Tbsp Olive Oil, more to taste

  • 2 Garlic Cloves, minced

  • Juice of 1 Lemon

  • 1/2 Cup reserved cooking liquid from the cooked pasta (feel free to substitute chicken stock or white wine)

  • a Handful of Spinach

  • Grated Parmesan Cheese for serving

  • Optional: Lemon Wedges for serving

Directions

  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil and cook the pasta until al dente, according to package instructions. Drain.

  2. Add the olive oil to a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the minced garlic, stirring until fragrant, about 1 minute.

  3. Add the cooked pasta, the lemon juice, the reserved cooking liquid, and spinach. Stir until the spinach wilts

  4. Serve immediately with grated Parmesan cheese on top and lemon wedges for extra acidity (optional)

Wine Pairing: Unoaked Chardonnay (like Chablis), Pinot Grigio, Sparkling Wine

pasta dinner pin.png

Wine Pairing with Spaghetti and Meatballs

There's nothing quite like a homemade bowl of spaghetti and meatballs. But to make this meal even better, serve a hearty glass of Italian Wine along side it! Here are a few of my favorite wines to pair with this dish.

Oh, pasta, how may I proclaim my love for you? So many people try to tell me you are bad for me, but I don't care.

Homemade pasta and sauce is my ultimate comfort food. I worship my favorite Italian Cookbook (that I didn't even buy--it randomly came with the All-Clad pots and pans I bought a few years ago). But guess what? A recipe for spaghetti and meatballs isn't in there! GASP!

It is funny that this dish isn't Italian at all: I'm pretty positive that spaghetti and meatballs was an invention of Italian-American restaurants. Authentic or not, I'm in love. Sweet sauce and spicy meatballs? What more do we need in life?

The Pairing

Even though Spaghetti and Meatballs may not completely be an Italian dish, Italian wine is its best friend. If you've read my other favorite pasta-and-tomato-sauce posts like Garlic Basil Tomato Sauce and Spaghettini and Eggplant Parmesan, you might be familiar with my theory: dishes with tomato sauce love red wines that contain a lot of acidity. You know that sour sensation your mouth gets when you eat something that is very lemony? Your mouth may even start to water? That is acidity, and tomato sauce has a lot of that going on in it. The best red wines will also have high acidity to match the tomato sauce. Couple that with some earthy funk and red fruit flavors in the wine and you've got yourself a match made in heaven.

Suggested Wines to Drink with Your Spaghetti and Meatballs

Italian Reds have the best acidity of any red wine I've ever had, so they are a no-brainer when it comes to choosing what to accompany my spaghetti and meatballs. Here are a few of my favorites:

  • Sangiovese
  • Chianti (learn more here)
  • Tuscan Red Blends
  • Barbera
  • Aglianico
  • Nero d'Avola
  • Merlot (preferably a super-fruity, high-acid version)
  • Primitivo or Zinfandel

Wines to Avoid

  • Pinot Noir: although this wine may have the high acidity to match spaghetti and meatballs, it usually is too light and will clash with the dish. I actually tried this pairing last night--it didn't work.
  • Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah/Shiraz, and Bordeaux Blends: frankly I just think these wines are too big and will overwhelm this dish. But remember, pairing wine is not black and white: there may be some versions of these wines that would pair decently with this dish.
  • White Wine: just stay away. Red wine is the winner in this pairing.

The Recipe

Use any spaghetti and meatball recipe you love for this wine pairing but make sure its not too spicy. This was my first time making spaghetti and meatballs from scratch (I know--what is wrong with me?!) so I made the meatballs based on a recipe from one of my favorite blogs and accompanied them with my favorite homemade tomato sauce. It turned out pretty amazing. Enjoy!


Wine Pairing with Spaghetti and Meatballs

Prep time: 15 mins

Cook time: 1 hour 15 mins

Total time: 1 hour 30 mins

Serves: 4

Meatball recipe adapted from Natashaskitchen.com

Ingredients

  • 1 Cup of white bread, crusts removed and torn into little pieces
  • 2/3 Cup cold water
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 lb sweet ground Italian sausage
  • 1/4 Cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
  • 4 minced garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 large egg
  • 3/4 Cup flour to dredge the meatballs
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Cups crushed canned Italian tomatoes, undrained
  • 1/2 medium onion
  • 5 Tbsp butter
  • salt
  • 1 to 1 1/2 pounds pasta
  • fresh basil, torn into pieces

Instructions

  1. In a small bowl, combine the bread pieces and flour. Set aside for about 5 minutes, then mash with a fork.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, add the ground beef, sausage, parmesan, garlic cloves, salt, black pepper, egg, and mashed bread crumbs. Mix until combined.
  3. Using your hands, take a handful of the mixture and roll into a meatball, about 1 1/2 inches round. Then dredge in the flour. Set aside and continue until all of the meatballs have been formed and dredged.
  4. In a large dutch oven, heat the olive oil. Working in batches, add enough meatballs to fill the bottom of the dutch oven and saute all sides until brown. When they have browned, set them aside and continue with the remaining batches. I actually only used 1/2 of the batch of meatballs and froze the others for later.
  5. Once all of the meatballs have been browned, start the sauce: In the same saucepan once all meatball have been removed, add the canned tomatoes, butter, onion, and salt. Heat to a simmer, then add back in the meatballs. Cook at a very low simmer for about 30 minutes, then cover and increase the heat a bit to cook the meatballs all the way through (about 15 additional minutes).
  6. Meanwhile, make boil the pasta and drain.
  7. Once the sauce is finished, taste and add any salt (if needed). Remove the onion and add the pasta. Stir completely so the sauce and meatballs are integrated, then serve. Sprinkle basil over finished plated dishes.

Swordfish Wine Pairing: Make it Broiled with Lemon-Butter Sauce

Ever wonder what wine to pair with swordfish? There are many to choose from, actually; it depends on how you want to cook this dish. In this pairing, I broiled swordfish steaks and served them with a delicious lemon-butter wine sauce...perfect with a crisp, acidic white wine.

Its no secret that I really, really, really like lemony dishes. (Here are two of my favorites: lemon chicken and easy peasy lemon spaghetti.) God help me if I run out of lemons in the house. They add so much character to the simplest of meals.  Squeeze a lemon over anything and its instantly brighter. So guess what I did to this swordfish? Gave it some zip with a lemon-butter sauce.

The Pairing

The number one thing to consider when pairing lemony dishes with wine is: are there lemon flavors in the wine? If the answer to that question is "yes", you'll most likely have a great wine pairing. Of course this means that white wines totally reign over reds for this one. The ideal wine I want with this dish is a medium-bodied, refreshing white wine with high acidity and plenty of lemon and citrus flavors. I chose Principessa Gavi from Banfi to eat with this dish and it was perfect! Gavi is a DOCG in Piedmont (northwestern Italy) for white wines made from the cortese grape. Naturally, its got a dry, crisp, refreshing character with high acidity and plenty of those lemon flavors that  I was looking for (and olive, which also went great with this dish).

However, if you don't find a Gavi, that's okay. This pairing is where you can have some fun, friends. Find a cool, weird varietal that you may have never heard of before. As long as its bright and acidic, it'll work.

Dani's Picks for Wines to Pair with Broiled Swordfish

  • Gavi
  • Verdicchio
  • Picpoul (a lemony varietal from southern France)
  • Pinot Grigio (make it from Italy)
  • Sauvignon Blanc (but stay away from New Zealand or America which may overwhelm this dish)
  • Chablis: always yummy

As you can see, I have a lot of suggestions and am barely scratching the surface. Have fun with this pairing, its an easy one! Just make sure not to buy a wine that is too weighty or aromatic. Stay away from: oaked Chardonnay, Gewurztraminer, Torrontes, and Viognier.

The Recipe

We call swordfish steaks "steaks" because its a pretty meaty fish. It can be made many different ways, but it was a great way to celebrate the weather getting warmer by broiling this one and lightening it up with a lemon butter sauce with dill. Leave the skin on the swordfish as it helps keep the fish moist (ew, I hate that word). Recipes adapted from finecooking.com and ehow.com.

Broiled Swordfish Steaks with Lemon-Butter Sauce

Author: Dani (CaretoPair.com)

Prep time: 5 mins

Cook time: 20 mins

Total time: 25 mins

Serves: 2

Ingredients

  • 1/2 Cup dry white wine (use whatever you're pairing your dinner with)
  • 1/4 Cup minced yellow onion
  • 4 Tablespoons cold butter, cut into cubes
  • 2 tsp chopped fresh dill
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 2 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 Swordfish steaks, about 1 lb total
  • small amount of butter (about 1/2 Tbsp)
  • 1 garlic clove, minced very finely

Instructions

  1. First, make the sauce. In a small saucepan, add the onion and wine and simmer over medium-high heat until the wine has reduced to 1/3 of its size, stirring occasionally. (About 10 minutes)
  2. Remove the pan from the heat and add a few cubes of butter, whisking them into the wine until fully melted. Repeat with the rest of the butter cubes.
  3. Stir in the dill, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper if desired (I didn't).
  4. Next, heat the broiler to high and let warm up for about 5 minutes. Brush the swordfish steaks with a thin layer of room-temperature butter and season with salt, pepper, and minced garlic on both sides. Finish with a drizzle of olive oil (to encourage browning) and place under the broiler about 5 inches away from the heating element.
  5. Cook for about 5 minutes until the swordfish begins to brown. Remove from the broiler and flip the fish with a spatula. Place back under the broiler and continue to brown for an additional 5 minutes .Meanwhile, reheat the lemon-butter sauce if necessary.
  6. Serve the swordfish over rice and pour the lemon-butter sauce all over it. Sqeeze a lemon over everything for an extra boost of acidity.

Thirsty for More?

What Wine to Pair with Eggplant Parmesan

Ahhh September, the glorious month when so many fruits and vegetables are harvested and available to our bellies. This would include my favorite "weird" veggie, eggplant. For the last three weeks they've been on sale for $1 each!

Now, given my current crazy budget of trying to only spend $30 a week on groceries, I just had to buy a couple. Last night I made a Thai Basil Eggplant Tofu dish, but it wasn't anything to write home about. I also found a great eggplant salad recipe I'll be making later in the week. But besides these recipes, I haven't had much luck with eggplant. What do you DO with them?

Queue eggplant parmesan. Is it safe to say this is the dish for our beloved eggplants? Is it probably the only thing most of us cook with eggplant? Unfortunately I think that's the truth...if you have a great recipe for eggplant, I'd love to hear it!

The Pairing

So naturally, the first week I bought a few eggplants I had to make the classic staple, eggplant parmesan. I have been absolutely in love with every recipe I've made from this cookbook "Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking" so had to try this one! Of course, it came out beautifully. And also of course, I paired it with Italian wine.

Like all the other Italian dishes I have prepared, Italian wine is plainly a natural match. Most Italian dishes we consume in this country include tomatoes, including this Eggplant Parmesan. Tomatoes have high acidity (acidity is the sourness you get from things like lemons that make the sides of your cheeks water). Most Italian wines also have high acidity. Acidic wines pair wonderfully with acidic foods, so its a match made in heaven.

I paired a Chianti with this dish--not Chianti Classico or Chianti Classico Riserva (to learn more about the different Chianti's, check out this guide I posted). Eggplant parmesan is a mix of earthy, crispy eggplant, rich cheesiness, fresh basil, and vibrant, fresh tomatoes. It begs for a light, acidic wine that won't overwhelm it. I believe most Chianti Classicos or Riservas would overpower this dish. I actually tried to serve Cabernet Sauvignon with the eggplant parmesan leftovers....bad mistake. Don't do it, its way to heavy for the dish.

If you don't have Chianti available to you, there are other options. Chianti is a Sangiovese-based blend so that's the other natural option. I would also love to have a good Italian or Californian Barbera with this dish. If you're at the grocery store and they don't have any of these wines, go visit a wine shop. Just kidding. Pick up a Pinot Noir and it will also pair decently.

The Recipe

As  I mentioned above, I highly suggest you pick up this cookbook if you're interested in Italian Cuisine...I randomly received it when I bought my All-Clad pots and pans set, and it has been the best cookbook to come to my house by surprise! I changed a few things around in the recipe and my eggplant was to die for. My biggest advice with this dish: buy really good canned tomatoes or use fresh from your garden. I swear by canned tomatoes imported from Italy as they have the highest acidity and best flavor of any canned tomatoes I've had.

Eggplant Parmesan

Author: Dani

Prep time: 50 mins

Cook time: 30 mins

Total time: 1 hour 20 mins

Serves: 4

Ingredients

  • 2 large eggplant
  • vegetable oil
  • flour
  • 2 Cups canned tomatoes, preferably imported Italian plum tomatoes, cut into small pieces. Save the juices
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • salt
  • 3/4 pound fresh mozzerella
  • 8 to 10 basil leaves
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1/2 Cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

Instructions

  1. Cut off the top and bottom and peel the skin from the eggplant.
  2. Cut the eggplant across its width, creating slices about 1/2 inch thick that look like cylinders.
  3. Line the slices on the sides of a colander and sprinkle generously with salt. Layer more slices on top and sprinkle again with salt. Continue until no more slices remain, sprinkling salt on top of each layer.
  4. Place a dish under the colander to catch water that will be expelled from the eggplant. Let the eggplant sit for at least 30 minutes.
  5. After the last step has been completed, pat each eggplant slice thoroughly dry with paper towels; set aside.
  6. Fry the Eggplant: In a large frying pan over high heat, pour enough vegetable oil in to come 1 1/2 inches up the sides.Dredge the slices of eggplant in flour, coating them on both sides. Then place them one by one into the hot oil. Only put as many eggplant slices into the pan that will fit in one single layer. Once the bottoms of the eggplants slices are golden and crispy, flip each over and repeat on the other side. Remove from the fryer when done and place on a cookie rack or paper towel over a plate. Continue frying the remaining pieces.
  7. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees
  8. Put the tomatoes and olive oil in another large skillet. Turn the heat to medium high, add 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and cook the tomatoes down until reduced by half, stirring occasionally.
  9. Slice the mozzerella into very thin slices. Wash the basil and tear each leaf into tiny pieces.
  10. Smear the bottom and sides of the baking dish with. Place a layer of fried eggplant slices on the bottom. Spread a little bit of the cooked tomato over them, then sprinkle a layer of mozzarella, parmesan cheese, and basil over. Top with another layer of fried eggplant and repeat the procedure until all ingredients have been used. I had three layers of eggplant in my dish.
  11. Place the dish in the preheated oven and cook for 30 minutes or until the top is a little crispy. Let it sit for a few minutes before bringing to the table!

Wine Pairing: Garlic Basil Tomato Sauce and Spaghettini

This recipe for garlic basil tomato sauce is so quick and simple, it eliminates any need for store-bought tomato sauce ever again.

I'm going back to the basics with wine and beer pairings. Yes, I think you should totally make beef carbonnade and pair it with a delicious Belgian dubbel, but let's be honest here--no one is making beef carbonnade on a daily basis. But I bet you have spaghetti and tomato sauce at least, say, once a month? Once a week?

In my quest to stop buying pre-made, packaged food, I can't tell you the last time I bought a jar of prepared spaghetti sauce. The thought of being able to just open a jar and heat it up on those lazy weeknights is somewhat appealing, but nothing beats making your own sauce, especially when its so easy! Especially this one that uses minimal ingredients and can be whipped up in 30 minutes. Too easy!

The Pairing

I said I was going back to basics on these wine pairings, so here goes: the winning wine with spaghetti and tomato sauce is, Chianti! "Womp Womp" you may think. But let me tell you that it is, and always will be, a winning match. Chianti has unfortunately received a bad reputation in the last few decades thanks to cheap bottles on tables of Italian restaurants. But Chianti, a very traditional, sangiovese-based blend from central Italy, can be one of the best wines to pair with food. Sangiovese is a grape with very high acidity which makes it incredible with high-acid foods (like tomatoes). Chianti can be light and easy-drinking, or rich with great depth, allowing it to stand up to a variety of dishes from basic sauces to meat-filled lasagnas. This particular sauce I made was very simple, using only garlic, basil, and tomatoes to create. The chianti I chose somehow successfully melded with all the flavors while also bringing each flavor out into the spotlight. Want to learn more about Chianti (and Chianti Classico, Rufina, Riserva and Superiore) and why its so great with tomato sauce? Find out more here.

Other Wines to Pair with Tomato Sauce

As I pointed out in my info-post on Chianti, its one of those bottles you should always have at your house because, well, you're probably going to have spaghetti and tomato sauce sometime soon. And Chianti will dress up the meal so easily. But if you don't have any on hand, don't panic, because there are some other great wines that will pair with Tomato Sauce nicely.

  • Other Italian Sangiovese: Chianti is predominantly sangiovese which is why it pairs so well with tomatoes. But other areas of Italy also make it, so look for a bottle that says "sangiovese" or many of the other wines listed below that are actually the same grape.
    • Brunello di Montalcino (a much more expensive and bigger example of sangiovese)
    • Rosso di Montalcino
    • Vino Nobile di Montepulciano
    • Carmignano
    • Domestic Sangiovese: lots of great examples are coming out of the Sierra Foothills of California
    • Canaiolo
    • Barbera

The Recipe

I used spaghettini, a form of pasta thinner than spaghetti but thicker than angel hair, in this recipe. Any of your favorite pasta shapes will do just fine though. Also, don't feel compelled to use my recipe in making a tomato sauce and Chianti wine pairing! This wine pairing should work with most tomato sauces, even the store-bought kind (if you're feeling lazy!).


Garlic Basil Tomato Sauce

Prep time: 5 mins

Cook time: 25 mins

Total time: 30 mins

Serves: 4

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of canned imported Italian tomatoes, cut into bite-sized pieces if needed (or use any good quality canned tomatoes)
  • 6 medium garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 5 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large bunch fresh basil
  • 1 lb pasta

Instructions

  1. Bring a large salted pot of water to a boil. Place pasta in the pot and cook 8-10 minutes or until al dente (note: if cooking spaghetti, fettucine, etc, do not break apart the noodles if they don't fit! Just wait for them to soften and fall into the pot themselves). Drain and rinse.
  2. In a large saucepan, empty the tomatoes with their juices, the minced garlic, olive oil, salt and a pinch of pepper. Heat the pan with all ingredients to medium high. Bring to a decent simmer, then reduce the heat to medium and continue cooking for 25 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, rinse the basil and pat dry with paper towels. Tear the basil into small pieces (consult my pictures for a good sized-basil).
  4. When the sauce is done, remove from heat and stir in the basil pieces. Combine the pasta into the sauce mixture, stir, and serve immediately.

Happy Pairing!

Pasta Bolognese Sauce Paired with Barbera

Confession: I am in love with Bolognese sauce. I don't really think that needs to be a confession, it is more of a proclamation. Of love. Yes its that bad. I'm not really even sure of the first time I had it, or the "aha!" moment I had when I decided I love it, but I just know that if I'm at a restaurant and its on the menu, no other dish stands a chance.

What makes bolognese sauce so good anyway? When I made this recipe that I'm about to share with you, it all came back. For me, its the ground beef. So simple and familiar, but in this sauce it is turned into a celebrity. And the tomatoes. I bought special Italian canned tomatoes, and it really made the dish. So flavorful, my mouth is watering while I write this.

Now, lets talk about Barbera...have you ever even heard of this grape varietal? Its not too popular with us Americans, but grows really well in Amador County, California. I recently went there on a trip (its about an hour south of Sacramento...total gold rush area, very historic) and barbera was all the rage. Amador is known for its zins, but barbera was a refreshing alternative. My friend that went with me quickly decided this was her new favorite grape varietal, and I don't blame her!

The Wine

Barbera is a high-acid, relatively light bodied grape indigenous to Italy. It is from Piedmont, a region in northwest Italy that is more famous for its big Barolos and sweet moscato d’asti. Compared to these infinitely better known wines, Barbera is kind of looked over to us Americans, especially since we don’t see them available in the grocery stores or even in liquor stores. As I was looking for a bottle of this at Total Wine, I counted 3 from America and 5 from Piedmont…not too much of a selection in a sea of other Italian wines.

But barbera deserves some recognition—it’s a great little grape, it works hard to produce some incredible flavors, and it is relatively affordable to us consumers! When I said it was high-acid before, that means it makes you salivate after your first sip, making you immediately want more. This makes this wine incredibly good with food, which for purposes of this blog, makes it my friend.

The Pairing

Ohhhh Bolognese sauce. I must admit, before this first attempt, I had never made it before. I was so excited to try this recipe from a pretty legit Italian Cookbook I recently came across, and I cannot believe the outcome after my first try. YUMMMMMMY!

This is a no-brainer pairing. When I first tried the Bolognese sauce, I couldn’t believe how much acidity there was from the Italian tomatoes I used. Every bite I took, my mouth was just salivating for more. See a commonality? I had to match this high-acid dish to a high-acid wine. Mhm. Easy peasy lemon squeezy. Beyond that, I can’t really explain much more, you are just going to have to buy a bottle of barbera, find 4 hours out of your day to make this sauce (its completely worth it, I promise), and see for yourself!


Pasta Bolognese Sauce 

Author: Dani (CaretoPair.com)

Prep time: 15 mins

Cook time: 3 hours 30 mins

Total time: 3 hours 45 mins

Serves: 4

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 3 Tbsp butter + 1 Tbsp for tossing with the pasta
  • 1/2 Cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 Cup chopped celery
  • 1/2 Cup chopped carrot
  • 3/4 ground beef chuck (make sure the meat is not too lean)
  • salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 Cup whole milk
  • whole nutmeg
  • 1 Cup dry white wine
  • 1 1/2 Cups canned imported Italian plum tomatoes, cut up, with their juices
  • 1 1/2 pounds pasta (tagliatelle or rigatoni is best. do not use spaghetti as this isn't traditional!)
  • freshly grated parmesan cheese to serve

Instructions

  1. Heat the oil, butter, and chopped onion in a large dutch oven over medium heat. Cook and stir the onion until translucent, then add the carrot and celery. Cook for about 2 minutes, stirring frequently.
  2. Add the ground beef, a pinch of salt, and a dash of black pepper. Cook and stir until all of the raw redness in the meat is gone.
  3. Reduce the heat lower and add the milk; stir and let simmer until almost all of the milk has evaporated. Add about 1/8 teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg; stir.
  4. Add the wine and let simmer until it too has evaporated. Then add the tomatoes and stir thoroughly. Turn the heat to the lowest setting possible so the sauce cooks at the "laziest" of simmers.
  5. Cook, uncovered, for at least 3 hours, stirring from time to time. Make sure the sauce is barely bubbling at any time. If the sauce begins to dry out while cooking, add 1/2 cup of water when necessary. The sauce is complete, however, when no water is left and the fat is separated from the sauce.
  6. Toss with cooked and drained pasta and add a tablespoon of butter. Serve with freshly grated parmesan.

Happy Pairing!