Dinners for One – Cherry Tomato Sauce

20140725_184107 (2)I learned how to cook from my mom.  Mom is a fantastic cook and always was – when my sister and I were growing up, no matter how busy we all were, she had a home cooked dinner on the table almost every day.  However, Mom cooks in great quantities, as though she’s expecting armies to descend on the table at mealtimes.

It’s taken me a while, but I’m slowly learning how to cook in smaller amounts, especially for the evenings when it’s just me and the cats for dinner.  While they will happily help me finish some leftover salmon, this meal wasn’t really up their alley.

This is NOT the face of a cat who is interested in veggies.

This is NOT the face of a cat who is interested in veggies.

I picked up my CSA from Basket of Life Farm today after work, and saw a tiny container of the first cherry tomatoes of the season!  It took all my willpower not to eat them in the car on the way home, but they made it safely to my kitchen, along with an adorable little onion and a beautiful, fragrant head of garlic – the perfect combination for a pasta sauce!

20140725_175840 (2)I minced the onion and two cloves of garlic and sauteed them in olive oil over medium low heat, adding salt, pepper and a pinch of crushed red pepper for spice.

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When the onions were soft and translucent, I added the handful of cherry tomatoes (without eating even one, I might add).  I turned the heat up a bit and let it go until the tomatoes started to pop.

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Once the tomatoes started to split and pop, I crushed them with a wooden spoon.  It was fun (cue evil laugh here).

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I let the tomatoes cook for another five minutes or so, continuing to break up the large pieces and skins with the spoon.  I cooked it down until it was almost a tomato paste kind of consistency.

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At that point, I added about 1/2 cup of white wine to deglaze the pan (I had an open bottle of chardonnay in the fridge that worked just fine).  I turned the heat up again and let it reduce by half.

Just after I added the wine.

Just after I added the wine.

After the wine reduced.

After the wine reduced, I added some fresh basil. Yum!

I had some frozen spinach pasta from Ohio City Pasta, so I cooked that while the sauce was reducing. When the sauce looks right, put it on low heat until the pasta is done.  If the sauce gets too dry, you can add some of the cooking liquid from the pasta to thin it out.

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Certainly you could make more sauce and more pasta and made this a meal for two or four, or however many you needed, but this is a rare dish that tastes just as good when you make a small amount.  It was fresh, healthy and tasty.

20140725_185010 (2)And I very much enjoyed it.

Fresh Cherry Tomato Sauce (serves 1)

  • A handful of cherry tomatoes
  • About 1/3 cup minced onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup white wine (your choice)
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Crushed Red Pepper (optional – if you like heat, add a pinch or two)
  • 3-4 leaves fresh basil, chopped or torn
  • Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 serving of your favorite pasta

Saute the garlic and onions over medium low heat. Add salt, pepper and crushed red pepper (if you choose) and cook until the onions are soft and translucent. Add the cherry tomatoes and turn heat up. When the tomatoes soften and split, crush with a wooden spoon. Cook the crushed tomatoes for about 5 minutes until they reach a thick, tomato paste consistency.

Add 1/2 cup white wine and turn the heat up again. Let the wine reduce by half, turn the heat to low and add half the basil. As the sauce is cooking, cook the pasta according to the package directions. If the pasta is still cooking while the sauce simmers on low heat, the sauce may thicken up too much. If needed, add some of the cooking liquid from the pasta to thin it out.

Top the pasta with the tomato sauce, basil and some grated Parmesan cheese. Eat and enjoy!