I don't like tomato sauce very much. This doesn't seem to be a popular opinion. I've tried several homemade recipes for marinara - long cooked, quick cooking, fresh tomatoes, canned - and none of them tasted any more appealing to me than a regular old jar of sauce. So I make no apologies in buying jarred marinara for the times when I need such sauce.
So I don't like plain old marinara much. However, add a few ingredients to it and it becomes magical. I recently made my faux vodka sauce and it was as delicious as the first time I made it.
To make creamy tomato sauce, also know as faux vodka sauce, start by adding a cup of white wine and half a jar (about 2 cups) of basic pasta type sauce to a pan. You could use homemade if you like, but I would stick with either marinara or tomato basil. Turn it on medium - trust me that you don't want the heat too high. Your kitchen will be covered in tomatoey spatters - and let it simmer for twenty to thirty minutes for the wine to reduce. Here's my sauce bubbling away on the stove.
When the sauce smells less strongly of wine and has been simmering for a while, start boiling your pasta water. You could serve this with any pasta, but I was drawn to Target's Archer Farms gnocchi one day and they were better than I expected. Both me and Mr. Hungry really liked them. This time the gnocchi are Pastene brand from Hannaford. Both products were vacuum-sealed, shelf-stable, and cook very quickly.
Once the gnocchi has cooked and been drained, turn the heat off the sauce, pour about a cup of cream into your sauce, a few generous handfuls of Romano or Parmesan cheese (I prefer the former), and stir it around. Add the gnocchi to the pot with the sauce, mix it all, and serve. Unfortunately, I ddin't have cream, but I did have some half-and-half to use it up. It wasn't really rich enough and sort of broke (or maybe curdled?) in the tomato sauce. It tasted fine, but heavy cream is much better.
I had some nice broccoli...
that I cut into florets and tossed into the boiling water for a few minutes with the gnocchi.
I seem unable to determine the proper amount of sauce for a pound of gnocchi and added far too much to this batch, but I used a slotted spoon to get rid of the excess and it came out just fine. I make no claims that this is gourmet food, and it's barely even homemade, but it is delicious, fairly nutritious (the gnocchi I bought has a good deal of fiber!), and pretty inexpensive. Here's how it looked before we ate: