While I love to cook, I am not one to invent and develop new recipes. I usually cook from cookbooks, magazines, and recipes I find on the Internet. Sometimes, well, let's be honest, often, I switch out ingredients here or there, according to what I have on hand and what I like. One area where I do go all freestyle though, is pasta sauces. And I do make some mean pasta sauces!
A pasta sauce is just a great way to use up some odds and ends from the fridge, and at this time of the year, to make use of all the ripe vegetables from the garden! We are having a bumper crop of tomatoes, so no cans were required for this meal! I chopped up some tomatoes and a red pepper from the garden, and also added some onions and garlic, all to be sauteed in some olive oil. For more liquid, I added some red wine. I also had grilled chicken strips left over, and cubed up some manchego cheese.
I simmered all of that with some thyme sprigs for a while, and finally added some pre-made gnocchi for the last five minutes. You can find gnocchi in the pasta aisle of your grocery store, they look like little dumplings and actually contain potato. The directions usually tell you to boil the gnocchi separately from the sauce, but I don't see a need for that. As a finishing touch, I drizzled the finished meal with some wild mushroom and sage oil. If you've never tried it, start experimenting with some flavored finishing oils!
Probably I will never make quite the same dish again, as there was no measuring or recording of ingredients involved, but I do remember the wine I added. Which was the same wine I enjoyed with the meal. It was the 2009 Charles Shaw Cabernet Sauvignon from California. Also commonly referred to as Two Buck Chuck. Even though I paid more than two dollars for it. I shelled out at least $3.50. Still not a bad deal. (And yes, this is my cat in the picture...)
This wine is sold exclusively at Trader Joe's and is produced by the Bronco Wine Company in California, which seems to be a huge enterprise by any stretch of the imagination. But in any case, this Cabernet Sauvignon has flavors of blueberry pie and blackberry jam, with a dash of vanilla. It is not very complex and surprisingly light-bodied for a Cab, but definitely a pleasant wine whose price just can't be beat. It was great in combination with the gnocchi in tomato sauce, of course, since it was also a component in the sauce. Give it a try with pasta and pizza, and you won't be disappointed.