Saturday, January 20, 2024

A Saturday In January

Today it was 12 degrees outside. Our kitchen was toasty warm.

What was going on?

Mom's Meat Sauce.

Escarole, Sausage and Bean Soup

Beef and Onion Studel

Italian Bread

Mom's Meat Sauce: A Time-Tested Tradition

The day began with a simmering pot of Mom's Meat Sauce—a cherished recipe.

My Mom’s Meat Sauce

2 tbsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 lb. ground beef
1 lb. ground pork
1/2 lb. sweet sausage
4- 16 oz. cans crushed tomatoes
3 to 4 tbsp. tomato paste
1 tbsp. oregano
1 tbsp. parsley
1 tbsp. basil
salt and pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in a large pot. Add ground meat

Brown and then stir.

Add chopped onions and saute for 5 minutes. 

Add all the meat. 

Cook over medium heat until browned. 

Drain off fat from the pan.

Add tomatoes and simmer covered for 1 to 2 hours. 

Add tomato paste to thicken, adding 1 tbsp. at a time as needed. 

Add herbs, salt, and pepper and simmer for 10 minutes. 

Let cool completely. 

Remove any grease from the top of the sauce. 

Freeze extra sauce in containers or zip-lock bags.

Wednesday, January 17, 2024

Remembering Dad Through Pasta Fagioli

My Dad and Pasta Fagioli. The connection runs deep. Whenever I indulge in a bowl of this hearty soup, memories of my father flood back—laughter, stories, and the comforting aroma that filled our home.

"The Olive Garden makes the best." Those words have become almost a mantra. Yet, tonight, a surprising revelation from Chris added a new layer to the tale. "Your father would have liked tonight's Pasta Fagioli better than the Olive Garden," he remarked.

A couple of years ago, I decided to recreate the magic of Pasta Fagioli that my Dad cherished. I stumbled upon this recipe on the Italy Magazine site. For tonight's dinner, I had every ingredient, with one exception—I didn't have any pancetta on hand. Improvisation led me to thick slices of salami, an unexpected but delightful substitution.

As I stirred the pot, the kitchen filled with the familiar scents. The simmering beans, tomatoes, and aromatic herbs recreated a scene from the past. The thick salami added its unique twist.

Tonight, as I savor a bowl of Pasta Fagioli, I reflect on the significance of this simple yet profound dish. It's more than just a recipe; it's a tribute to a father's favorite meal.

In every spoonful, I taste the love and warmth that defined those moments spent around the table with my Dad. Pasta Fagioli is a dish that transcends time, connecting generations through the shared experience of a delicious journey down memory lane.

Pasta Fagioli


14.5 ounce can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained

350 gr (dry ditalini or pipette)

Canned chopped Tomatoes 14.5 oz 

small onion diced

1 celery stalk diced

1 carrot diced

1 tbsp olive oil

60 grams of salami (or pancetta) cut into cubes or strips 

1/2 liter chicken stock

black pepper to taste


Sautè all the ingredients and then add the chopped tomatoes. 

When the tomatoes turn mushy, add one or two ladles of stock and let it simmer.

While the sauce is cooking, sauté the salami (or pancetta) in another saucepan; fry it with its own fat, then add the drained beans.

Flavor the beans with various herbs and spices, like garlic, sage, and bay leaves, you can also add some pork rinds or the bone of a prosciutto. 

Then add a couple of ladles of stock and when it gets absorbed by the beans add them to the first pot with the vegetables and tomatoes, and let it simmer. 

Boil the pasta of your choice (such as ditalini, pipette, or even broken long pasta) in salted water, and halfway through the cooking time drain them and add them to the bean soup. 

Add a ladle of the pasta cooking water or the stock, if necessary, and simmer together until the pasta is ready.  

Make it as soupy or as dry as you like by adding more or less warm stock.

Serve with a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil.