Pasta with Creamy Tomato Sauce

I’ve been making this creamy, chunky pasta sauce since I was in college, and while I have endlessly altered it, it never diverges too far from the original.

Serves 4 to 6.

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 red onion, halved and finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
3 carrots diced
2 zucchini, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 tablespoon dried basil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley leaves
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained
½ cup dry white wine
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 cup heavy cream or sour cream
2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 pound medium-size shaped pasta, such as shells or rotini
Freshly shaved or grated Parmesan cheese
Fresh basil leaves, for garnish

1. To make the sauce: Place a large skillet over a medium-high heat and when it is hot, add the butter. When the butter has melted, add the onion, garlic, carrots, zucchini, bell pepper, basil, and parsley, and cook until tender, about 10 to 15 minutes.

2. Add the tomatoes, wine, salt, and pepper and cook until all the vegetables are soft, about 15 to 20 minutes.

3. Place the cream and tomato paste in a small bowl and stir to combine. Gradually add the mixture to the skillet and cook until heated through, for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring all the while. (The sauce can be covered and refrigerated up to 3 days or frozen up to 3 weeks.)

4. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain well and divide among shallow bowls. Reserve a little bit of the pasta water in case you need to thin the sauce.

5. Serve the pasta topped with the sauce and garnished with Parmesan cheese and basil.

From The $50 Dinner Party: 26 Dinner Parties That Won’t Break Your Bank, Your Back, or Your Schedule (Simon & Schuster, 1998)