When I was a teenager, my sister was gifted a subscription to a cooking magazine. While each of us enjoyed cooking before this gift, the magazine inspired us with tantalizing photos, helpful kitchen hacks, new flavor combinations and technical challenges. Not every recipe was great, but we saved the ones we liked the best and many of them we still use today.

One of the favorites has evolved into our family’s tomato cream pasta sauce. This is one of our tastiest weeknight pantry meals and makes everyone feel satisfied with minimal effort. The main difference between that recipe and this one is that the original used Gorgonzola cheese, which is a little too high on the funk scale for me.

Another great thing about this recipe is how easy it is to get kids involved. Use this simple, low-mess meal to pull them into the kitchen and involve them in these skills:

1) Practice chopping onions or shallots
2) Learn to use a can opener
3) Learn to use the cheese grater
4) Learn how to cook pasta to perfect al dente
5) Practice measuring liquid ingredients
6) Practice tasting as you go, because all of the measurements in this recipe are flexible.

Tomato Cream Pasta Sauce
Serves 4

1 large shallot or 1/2 small onion, diced
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
2 cans (14.5 oz each) diced tomatoes in their juices
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup goat cheese (or cheese of choice, including more parmesan)
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar (optional)
grated parmesan cheese
minced fresh basil (optional)

1. Heat a skillet on medium high heat, then add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add onions or shallots and garlic and saute until the onion is translucent.
2. Add the tomatoes and water and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 15 minutes (could go longer for softer tomatoes; just keep adding liquid in small amounts to avoid scorching). Meanwhile, cook your pasta of choice.
3. Add cream and cheese and stir until melted and incorporated. Add the vinegar. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Note: Consider reserving some of the pasta water to incorporate into the sauce, which will add starch to the sauce for a velvety texture and so that it will adhere better to the pasta . Top with Parmesan and fresh basil if you wish.

Enjoy! Let us know how yours turned out @tastequestHQ !

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