Parents often remark after their kids join the family, they aren’t quite sure what they used to talk about or what they did with their time.  We have pondered this topic many times ourselves.  Well, now I am starting to feel similarly about this ridiculous winter.  Everything seems to revolve around it, since we are continuously cooped up inside with two stir crazy children.  I’m tired of talking about wind chills, inches of snow, school cancellations and delays, etc.

Since the end is nowhere in sight, we do the best we can to make things more enjoyable. And what better way than comfort food?  We don’t eat much pasta these days and typically opt for more nutritious grains such as quinoa, but when we do it is a treat.  This meal was the perfect indulgence and a fitting way to use up the last two jars of the 50 pounds of tomatoes I canned in late summer.  (I guess I need to try for 75 this summer!)  Dressed with a hearty tomato sauce enhanced with a touch of mascarpone and shaved Parmesan, this warmed our bellies and our spirits.  Not too much longer, right?  Right??

  • Yield 4-6 servings


  • 12 oz. pasta (I used whole wheat)
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • 1 tbsp. tomato paste
  • ½ tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1/3 cup dry red wine, such as Merlot
  • 1 (28 oz. can) crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tsp. Italian seasoning
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 4 oz. mascarpone cheese
  • 1 cup shaved Parmesan cheese, divided
  • Chopped fresh basil, for serving


  • 01

    Bring a large pot of water to boil.  Cook pasta according to package directions until al dente.  Drain well.  Set aside.

  • 02

    Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the onion to the pan and sauté until beginning to soften, about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic, tomato paste, and red pepper flakes.  Cook 1-2 minutes, just until fragrant and the tomato paste begins to brown. Add the wine to the pan and scrape any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.  When most of the moisture has bubbled off, add the tomatoes to the pan along with the Italian seasoning.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer.  Cover, leaving the lid cracked.  Let the sauce simmer and thicken, 10-15 minutes.

  • 03

    When the sauce is finished cooking, remove the pan from the heat.  Stir in the mascarpone and half of the shaved Parmesan.  Adjust seasoning as necessary.  Toss the pasta with the sauce.  Serve immediately, garnishing with fresh basil and additional Parmesan as desired.