The New and Improved Monday Through Thrusday Routine

October 12, 2017 Uncategorized  No comments

We all know how fun it is to pick out a wine and take it to a fine restaurant – especially if we’re meeting a group of fun friends who’s presence inspires us. Let’s face it – being the one who brings the wine allows up to argiano 2bathe in the accolades of authority and influence (as long as the wines have been well-chosen), and otherwise be the king of ceremonies for the evening (I hope that means we don’t have to pick up the tab, as well).

But the more common scenario would be bringing home an excellent bottle while we cook (or bring home) a nice meal on the more mundane nights of Monday through Thursday. And last night, I did just that – in fact, I do this a few nights a week.  And here’s last night’s cooking play-by-play.

Wanting to enjoy a nice bottle of red wine, I opted for the 2014 Argiano Non Confunditur, an inexpensive yet fragrant and delicious red blend from Tuscany. This “Junior Super Tuscan” received 90 points from the Wine Spectator – “Wild rosemary, thyme and tar flavors shade the black cherry and strawberry notes in this firm red, which is sinewy, with mouthcoating tannins on the dusty finish. Cabernet Sauvignon, Sangiovese, Merlot and Syrah.” And, in my book, it earns every point. So, now that we have our wine picked out, what’s the ideal pairing to enjoy with this at home? You guessed it, a nice pasta dish – and, having planned the meal in advance, away I went – and don’t think I waited until dinner was served to enjoy a glass. However, this wine is so terrific, that a glass by itself is a treat. it shows fruit, in addition to that classic dryness of Tuscan wines that can be so appealing.

What I had bought in advance:

2 cans San Marzano Tomatoes (you can cheat and use 1 bottle of a good quality pasta sauce like Rao’s or Trader Joe’s Tomato Basil sauce to substitute for 1 can of the San Marzanos) ; 1 container green and black Olive Tepanade; 1 package Spicy Italian chisaute'cken sausages (you can find these at specialty shops, as well as Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, Bristol Farms, etc.) ; 1 head organic garlic; EVOO (extra virgin olive oil), crushed red pepper flakes; 1 jar capers; misc. dry spices; 1 bag organic Penne pasta (or whatever other pasta shape you prefer – Rigatoni, Spaghetti, Fettucine, as well as cheese, spinach, or meat filled Ravioli – although I pass on butternut squash Ravioli with this particular sauce); and last but not least, parmesan reggiano cheese.

First thing – combine 3 Spicy Chicken Italian sausages (I like to cut each pre-cooked sausage into 3 or 4 pieces), 3 cloves of garlic, red pepper flakes, and EVOO into Cuisinart Mini Prep and pulse into semi-rough chop, then saute’ at medium heat. After browning for about 7-10 minutes, add in 1/2 cup of wine to deglaze. Stir everything around and get a nice big whiff of that fragrant wine – WOW! Now you’re getting hungry – I know I sure was – and that’s when you can quietly listen for the excited and glowing comments in the next room from your dining companions or guests – and just like bringing a wine to a restaurant, you can feel like a big shot.

 

 

sauce

Then, add in tomatoes, and smoosh them in with a potato masher (to smooth out the whole tomatoes), then add in 2 tablespoons of each the tepanade and capers, another 1/2 cup of wine, and give it a nice long simmer. I like to leave the lid off the pan, as the sauce reduces a touch and adds a bit of thickness – and the sure get the house smelling great. This generally takes about half an hour if kept on low. At the same time, boil water to prepare for your pasta!

The nice thing about enjoying a glass while cooking, is that since you’ve poured the wine, everything is getting a much appreciated decanting and mellowing out a bit. Not to mention, having a sip or two makes you crave some of the food you’re preparing. And, when nobody’s looking, you can taste all you want and make little seasoning modifications as you go. And of course, you get to taste again to make sure your modifications were done correctly.

 

 

 

 

pasta 2At last! you’re all ready to enjoy your meal and a little more wine. What I like so much about pasta sauce is that the possibilities for variations and substitution of ingredients are limitless – you can add anchovies and a hefty dose of garlic, and even more red pepper flakes for a puttanesca, or trade out the sausage for chopped (or even grilled) vegetables – eggplant, portabello mushrooms, and zucchini are ideal. And, of course, you can save the leftover sauce for a nice chicken and/or grilled vegetable parmigiana the next evening (and don’t forget – you’ll need another bottle of wine for that endeavor).

And, the best thing about having a nice meal at home? You can have as much as you like, even while wearing your pajamas, and most importantly, the bill never arrives. Save that for the weekend.

 

 

 

 

 

 

And don’t forget, mention “Nickel & Dime” in the notes upon checkout for a discount flat shipping rate of $25.00 to the lower 48.

 

 

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