So, you've decided on chef salads for dinner when the one you love and cook for says, “Now I don't want salad, I want something hot.” So begins the process of thinking on your feet and diplomatic negotiation. The light bulb goes on, and you reply, “we've got frozen cheese ravioli. You prep those, I'll make a sauce.” She smiles, bats those beautiful blue eyes and says, “Tomato sauce, right?” Ready, set, go.
This is actually an eminently practical example of cooking from the hip. It's an exceptionally trashy night out, with a nasty wind howling, and rain beating on the windows. Comfort is called for. Here's what I came up with. It took 15 minutes from start to finish and tasted like a million bucks. See if you don't agree.
1 14 ounce can diced Tomatoes
1/4 Cup dry White Wine
1/4 Cup Half & Half
2 Tablespoons Sweet Onion
2 Tablespoons Feta Cheese
1 clove Garlic
1 teaspoon fresh Sage (Dry is fine too)
1 Tablespoon unsalted Butter
1 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Juice of 1/4 small Lemon
In a large sauté pan over medium high heat, add olive oil and heat through.
Mince onion and garlic, chiffonade Sage if using fresh.
Add onion to pan and sauté until translucent. Add garlic and sauté until raw garlic smell is gone.
Deglaze the pan by adding white wine. Sauté with aromatics until raw alcohol smell is gone and sauce has thickened slightly.
Add butter and allow to melt and incorporate. Add sage, (rub it in between thumb and forefinger if using dry), stir to incorporate.
Add tomatoes, undrained, and stir to heat through. When the sauce is bubbling, reduce heat to low, add cream and cheese and stir constantly until well incorporated. Serve promptly over pasta, chicken, pork, tofu or lightly sauteéd vegetables.
If you prefer a smoother sauce, use an immersion blender to homogenize.
You may then run the sauce through a fine mesh strainer, return it to a medium low flame, and reduce it by 50%; this is now more of a purée, and could be used as a bed for those proteins or vegetables.
1/2 teaspoon of smoked, sweet Paprika would be a very nice variation as well.