Fresh Tomato, Pepper & Red Wine Pasta Sauce

We’re getting into cooler weather now (even though it’s been 90°F for the past week) and that means my favorite thing: pot cooking. You know, the kind of cooking where you’re not worried about having the stove or the oven on all day, so you just throw a bunch of things in a Dutch oven and let it warm your house. This is one such recipe. It doesn’t take a lot of prep, but it does take a bit of patience. The payoff is well worth it, though, so stick around.

You start out with simple ingredients: tomatoes, onions, garlic, red peppers, maybe some fresh herbs if you’ve got ’em. And the process is even simpler than the ingredients. All you have to do is throw them all in a pot and let the mixture happily burble away on your stove until it’s thick and warming and begging to be spooned over pasta. Maybe you add some sausage like I did. Maybe you add some meatballs. Maybe you shower the whole thing with parm because life is short and you need more cheese. Maybe you don’t do any of that and you just appreciate the sauce in all its gorgeous simplicity. It’s your life, man. You’re calling the shots here.

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But the one thing that is absolutely non-negotiable is that you must make this pasta sauce. It’s one of my favorite ways to celebrate the end of summer and ease into fall, because it makes use of all those gorgeous late-summer tomatoes. Also because literally no one dislikes it. It’s comfort food in its truest (and prettiest!) form. So if you’re in need of some comfort, or if you just like pasta and food that tastes good, get that big heavy pot out of the cupboard and start simmering. You’re gonna love it—promise.

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Fresh Tomato, Pepper & Red Wine Pasta Sauce

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, diced
  • 2–3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 pounds ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • Optional: cooked Italian sausage (I love Aidell’s Italian chicken sausage) or meatballs, plus Parmesan for topping

Instructions

  1. Heat olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-low heat. Add onion and bell pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent, about 10 minutes. If you notice them taking on too much color, reduce the heat to low. The idea here is low and slow—minimal browning is ideal.
  2. Add garlic and spices, stir, and cook for 30 seconds or until fragrant.
  3. Add tomatoes and wine. Stir together, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Simmer for 30–35 minutes, stirring and scraping the bottom occasionally, or until thick and fully reduced. Discard bay leaf.
  4. If desired, add sausage or meatballs. Serve immediately over pasta and top with Parmesan cheese.

Notes

  • If you have fresh oregano or basil, feel free to sub them out here!
  • If you’re craving this sauce but it’s winter and peak-season tomatoes are nowhere to be found, don’t be afraid to lean on canned tomatoes. Whole plum tomatoes are a great substitute; just crush them with your hands before adding them to the pot.
  • I prefer to use Cabernet for this recipe, but you can use another dry or semi-dry red wine like Malbec or Shiraz if they’re all you have on hand. I 100% do not recommend cooking with Barefoot. Spring for the Yellow Tail if you’re not looking to spend a ton of money; the payoff will be double.

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