Versatility and Peace

I'm one of those people that finds winter weather depressing. The constant overcast gloom dampens my spirits and makes it hard to crawl out of bed in the morning. In the summer, I practically bound down the stairs at 6 am everyday to go for a run, I'll surprise my family with breakfast (I hate cooking in the morning), and the house will always be spotless. In the winter, I may wake up by 8 am unmotivated to exercise, I usually skip breakfast (I know it's terrible), and I will procastinate vaccuuming for a few days. There's only one place I can go during this dismal season, aside from a tropical vacation, that keeps the winter blues at bay: My kitchen. It is my domain and the only place right now I can find peace. My oven may be falling apart, my bird may screech when I go there and he can no longer see me, and I may have to suffer through my neighbor's attempts at learning an instrument, but once I turn on the overly loud exhaust fan I feel like I'm in my own little bubble away from the world.

I love how the ingredients to any given recipe by themselves are unexciting but when you put them all together you can get something amazing. The same goes for wine; Have a glass by itself and it can be mediocre but pairing it with that perfect dish can make it sing in your mouth. As much as I may enjoy the game of wine pairing, sometimes I just want to open a bottle and relax without having to fuss too much about matching it to my food. Especially this time of year. On those nights,  I resort to my go-to "Pairs-With-All-Red-Wines" pasta dish that not only is ridiculously simple to make but my 6 year old will devour it without complaint. It's so versatile you can use whatever sausage you want, any shape of pasta you want, any soft herb you happen to have on hand, and you can probably swap in whatever vegetable you fancy at the time.

Whether you're suffering from the winter blues, too tired to think about wine pairings, or maybe just feeling lazy, uncork a bottle of whatever red wine you grab first and settle in with a bowl of pasta. Hopefully, you can find a little peace along the way.

Pairs-with-Any-Red Pasta

olive oil
1 pound hot or mild Italian sausage
1 onion, sliced
2 red bell peppers, sliced
3 garlic cloves, sliced
1-15 ounce can crushed or petite diced tomatoes
1/2 cup white wine or vermouth
1 handful parsley, basil, and/or taragon, chopped
1 pound pasta (any shape), dried or fresh
Parmesan or any hard cheese (optional)

1) Cook the sausages according to package directions. When the sausage is cool enough to handle, cut it into 1/2-inch slices.

2) In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the pasta according to package directions. Be sure to save about 1 cup of the starchy pasta water when you drain the noodles.

3) While the pasta is cooking, add the onion, peppers, and salt to taste to the pan you cooked the sausages in. Cook, stirring frequently, over medium high heat, until the vegetables begin to brown, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for about 30 seconds. Add the white wine or vermouth and reduce for about a minute and then add the tomatoes, the reserved sausage and any accumulated juices, and the herbs, and bring to a simmer.

4) Toss the pasta with the sauce, adding the pasta water if necessary to loosen the sauce. Top with grated parmesan and a little chopped parsley if desired.