Now this has gotten embarrassing, I’ve been trying to get this to post all week, so let’s see if THIS ONE works! I’m just finding out the server doesn’t like apostrophes in the title. Thanks for being patient, please email me if you are still getting an error message.
Thought for the week:
The happiest people don’t necessarily have the best of everything; they just make the best of everything they have. –Unknown
I’m going to subject you to a couple Italian pasta stories!
When I was in my early 20s I was having company (family at the time!) and decided to make our family pasta recipe. My mom came to visit right after that and I had one of those huge Tupperware bowls of pasta LEFTOVER. So she asked me how many people were there, and I told her 8. Then she asked me how much spaghetti I cooked, and I told her 3 pounds. After she quit laughing, she asked where I got a pot big enough to cook that much. I told her I used the biggest one I had (which was her old hand-me-down one) and just kept adding water as it was getting absorbed! She told me for 8 people I never needed more than 1 pound or at the most a pound and a half. I couldn’t afford to throw any of it out, and I like pasta, but that was a bit much. The good news is I’ve never repeated that mistake.
When I was 17, I helped one of my girlfriends cook dinner for her family. She was making pasta and when it needed to be drained, I asked for the “scolapasta” (Italian for pasta strainer). That’s all I’d ever heard it called, because Italian was spoken a lot in our home. Well, she looked at me like I had two heads and said, “What???” The next couple minutes was like playing charades as I was trying to get her to understand what I needed. And yes there was laughter.
Moving on…. On Sunday mornings, when I was growing up, I would wake to the (for me) most wonderful smell of spaghetti sauce cooking. Although I love fresh tomato sauces, this recipe is still my favorite especially in cooler months. It has a mellow rich flavor.
Fioretti Spaghetti Sauce (Stovetop or Slow Cooker)
- 2 TBSP olive oil
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 pound hamburger, 80% lean (no leaner or sauce will lack flavor)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 (10¾-ounce) cans tomato puree
- 2 (6-ounce) cans tomato paste
- 1 TBSP crushed, dried basil
- 1 rounded TBSP kosher salt
- Coarsely ground black pepper (not too much while it’s cooking)
- Water (used in a 3:1 ratio with paste and 1:1 ratio with puree)
- 1 lb of pasta cooked al dente (Barilla or DeCecco)
- In a Dutch oven (really any large heavy pot, not aluminum or iron though) heat the olive oil on medium heat. Add the onion.
- As the onion begins to cook, add the hamburger, breaking it up well. Continue cooking and stirring frequently, and breaking up the meat, until the moisture evaporates.
- Stir in the garlic and continue cooking until the meat just begins to turn brown.
- Start adding the puree and paste. For each can of puree, add one can of water; for each can of paste, add 3 cans of water. Stir thoroughly.
- Stir in the salt, basil, and pepper. Bring sauce up to a boil, stir, and lower to simmer.
- Position lid on pan so it does not fit tightly and steam can escape. Continue simmering for about 6 hours until sauce deepens in color and thickens. Stir occasionally.
- Sauce is better if, when it’s done and cooled down, you store it in the refrigerator overnight. This allows the flavor to deepen, and the grease to be easily removed, since it will set up in a layer on top of the sauce. If you want to serve the sauce fresh (without refrigerating at least overnight), skim the grease from the top with a spoon.
- Serve with pasta.
- Can be done in slow cooker as long as moisture escapes. Typically this happens, but if you have a slow cooker that doesn’t lose much moisture, put a toothpick under the edge of the lid. You'll have to do the first 3 steps in a frying pan, then transfer to a slow cooker and add tomato puree, paste, and salt and pepper. Cook on low for 8-10 hours or until reduced and develops deep color.
Additions to sauce
- If you want meat cooked in the sauce, there's meatballs, meat rolls, or just chunks of beef (chuck is best). If you use sausage or any kind of pork, you just need to know that the sauce won't thicken like it does with beef.
- For meatballs, mix together 1 lb ground beef, 1/2 cup breadcrumbs, 1/4 cup parmesan, 2 TBSP finely chopped onion, 1 TBSP tomato paste, 1 TBSP minced fresh parsley, 1 TBSP minced celery leaves, 2 eggs, and salt and pepper. Make individual meatballs and sear them in a frying pan or bake them in a 475° oven for about 10 min. then add them to the sauce.
- For meat rolls, use the Italian Beef Roll recipe. You can make small rolls or use a pounded round steak and make one large one. Sear before you add to sauce.