Now THAT’S Italian! And Greek!
My mom came to this country when she was 7. My Nonno, who was from Naples (Chianchetelle, to be exact…and no, you have no idea where that is), came ahead of his family to find a job and a place to live. Shortly thereafter, Nana, who is Greek (from Athens), and her 4 children, who I know as Uncle Mike, Aunt Joan, Mom, and Uncle John, arrived in NJ (Aunt Maria was born a few years later).
My dad was born here, as were his parents. His grandparents emigrated here from Italy early in the 20th century. His family was primarily from the region of Sicily.
So, that makes me 75% Italian and 25% Greek. 100% Mediterranean. Which means I should tan easily…but I don’t. It also means I should understand what good food really is…now THAT, I do.
There are so many dishes from both of these countries that remind me of family. Dishes that appeared on the dinner table, like clockwork, every Sunday….every Christmas Eve…every Easter…
Dishes that I make and right away, the smell takes me back to my grandparents’ small apartment in Weehawken that we ALL (and by ALL I mean 25 or so of us) would go to most weekends for “Sunday Dinner”. Nobody complained about the lack of space, the cigarette smoke, the on-street parking, or the traffic getting there. It was all about two very important things…FOOD and FAMILY.
Can you pick me out of this crowd? Not one of my finer moments, LOL.
Here are the two people responsible for the DiGiovanni Clan. Gorgeous couple, no?
In the spirit of Sunday dinner, I’d like to share my bolognese sauce recipe. I’ve tweaked this through the years. This is one of Frank’s favorites…then again, anything involving pasta is a favorite of his! I sometimes double the recipe and freeze what’s left over for future use. This is also really good when used in lasagna with bechamel sauce (a post for another time).
And by the way, our traditional Sunday meal (the first course) consisted of sauce made with meat – sausage, pork, braciole, etc. – not bolognese…but this is close enough, and all I have a picture of right now 🙂
Melissa’s Bolognese Sauce
1/4 cup GOOD extra virgin olive oil
pinch of crushed red pepper
1 stalk celery, chopped
2 carrots, chopped (you can also use baby carrots…I usually do since that’s what’s normally in my fridge)
1 large or 2 medium yellow onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
salt and pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
1 pound ground beef (you can sub turkey, veal, pork, even lamb, or a combo of any of these)
1/2 cup dry white or red wine (maybe a bit more)
1 large can (28 oz) crushed tomatoes
fresh basil for garnish, optional
your favorite grated cheese (mine is Parmagiano Reggiano or Pecorino Romano)
Put a dutch oven over medium-high heat and once it is hot, add oil and crushed red pepper. When oil is hot, add celery, carrots, onion and garlic. Season with a bit of salt and pepper. Saute for approximately 6-7 minutes or until ingredients are fairly soft.
Add meat and cook until it is no longer pink, breaking it up as it cooks. Pour in wine, lower heat to medium, and cook until the wine burns off, about 3 minutes.
Add tomatoes, more salt and pepper, and basil. Cook on low heat until sauce thickens. Top with fresh basil and cheese when serving.
WW Points+ = approximately 2 for 1/2 cup, using 95% lean ground beef