Side Orders: A complexity of flavors in a simple pasta sauce

Anne Braly

If you are a fan of serving pasta as a side dish, butter and parmesan cheese on top may be your go-to way to serve it. Here's an idea for something different: a sauce that works as an excellent addition to fettuccine or angel hair pasta and is a great with fish, pork, chicken or beef. Could there be a better side dish than one that works with any type of meat or seafood?

Though the sauce is very simple to make, it has a wonderful complexity of flavors with the addition of white wine, tomatoes, brown sugar and onion to the mix. It's the kind of recipe that you want to follow, then taste as you go, adding a little bit more wine, a tad more salt or another teaspoon or two of brown sugar. Red pepper flakes are a nice addition as well, depending on your tolerance for heat.

Like many sauces, this one is even better the following day, allowing the flavors to marry. It makes an excellent vegetarian main dish, too, but is especially good with any meats you take off the grill as grilling season is now in full swing.

White Wine Tomato Pasta Sauce

1/2 cup thinly sliced yellow onion

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes

2 tablespoons brown sugar

6 tablespoons white wine

1/2 teaspoon dried basil

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

1/4-1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, optional

12 ounces fettuccine, spaghetti or angel-hair pasta

In a large skillet, saute onion in oil until tender. Add tomatoes, brown sugar, wine, basil, oregano, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes, if using. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, until bubbly and slightly thickened, 4-6 minutes. Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions. When it reaches al dente stage, drain and add sauce to pasta, stirring to blend. Serve as a side dish with meat or seafood or as a vegetarian entree.

New cookbook

Speaking of grilling season, Char-Broil, maker of some of the most-popular grills on the market, has a new cookbook filled with recipes you'll want to try this year. "Grilling for the Family" has 300 recipes, so there's something to please every palate, from vegetarians to those of you who can't get enough beef. There are recipes for seafood, desserts, lamb, chicken, side dishes - you name it, you'll find it in this book. The cookbook is one that needs to be in every home that has a grill.

One of the easiest recipes I've found in the book is one for grilled nachos. It makes for a simple appetizer to serve your guests while they wait for their burgers, steaks, ribs or whatever deliciousness you have coming off the grill. To make them, simply place tortilla chips in a foil pan, sprinkle them with canned sliced green chili peppers and whatever shredded cheese you want - smoked Gouda, cheddar, Monterey Jack or a combination of all three. Place the pan over medium coals, close the grill lid and keep them there till the cheese melts, 8-10 minutes. Serve the nachos with salsa and sour cream, if desired.

You can find "Grilling for the Family" online at sites such as

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