I’m a sucker for a nice lady who wants to pour me a glass of wine. I set myself up for this because I was hovering over some bottles at Whole Foods trying to make a decision, and she knew an opportunity when she saw it.
I said yes to a taste of a wine I would never buy, a fruity red sangria with fruit extracts (pomegranate, blueberry, blood orange and acai juices) in it, yet but I was pleasantly surprised by the flavors. I thanked my would-be hostess, moved on, then a few minutes later while the aura of the wine department still had me, I circled back to buy a bottle. I’m sure that exact scenario is in the Whole Foods business plan.
I hadn’t really thought about drinking the wine because I don’t have a pool, and it really felt like a pool wine to me, soooo, it laid on its side until today when I thought it might have use other than for my own entertainment.
I needed a quick dinner after my yoga class, and I had what turned out to be some pretty sweet core ingredients. A nice can of diced organic tomatoes (yes, it’s OK to use great canned tomatoes even when heirlooms are still on the vine), tomato paste, fresh onion, fresh garlic, fresh thyme and a fresh cayenne pepper. Oh yeah, Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.
So, I sweated the chopped onion in olive oil, smashed about four big cloves of garlic with the flat end of a chef’s knife, then rough-chopped it and added it to the onions. Here’s the magic. I used the sangria to de-glaze the pan… probably more than a quarter cup… and let it simmer until the alcohol burned off. I added the 28 oz can of tomatoes, the small can of tomato paste, several large sprigs of fresh chopped thyme and a seeded and chopped fresh cayenne pepper from the garden.
Cooking time is only 20 minutes or so with the addition of salt and pepper. Here’s the surprise. The fresh taste of the sangria really bumped the tomato sauce. The taste was noticeably bright and flavorful. The texture of the sauce was great in its irregularity. A few nice grindings of cheese on a really good quality penne pasta (Garofalo), and voila!
One of the features of a successful dish, no matter how simple, is being able to discern individual flavors, and I’ll admit to surprising myself with the vibrancy of this sauce.
All of this is to say, let the moment take you, even if it involves a bottle of wine you’d otherwise never buy. And, when your 30 minutes (or less) of cooking time is up, luxuriate in the simple, vibrant flavors and textures of what you have created.