|~Rigatoni w/ Red Sauce~|
My family passes down recipes and stories like other families pass down heirlooms of great worth. After all what is an heirloom, something treasured that has been passed down for generations through the family. Most of our heirloom recipes are simple but good, the kind of food I crave with a wonderful desperation!. This heirloom recipe in particular has a special place in my Mother's heart because it was the first meal she had upon arriving in Italy to meet her future husband and family for the first time. My Mother met my Father through the encouragement of her stepmother desiring to set up one of her two handsome nephews still living in Naples with her beautiful 16 year old stepdaughter. They had agreed upon Alfonso who also was 16 years old but when my Mother's letter arrived Alfonso's older brother, Andrea who was 23 at the time, got to it first and instantly fell in love with my Mother. He then secretly wrote to my Mother for the next year and amid many lavish promises proposed to her. One year later my Mother found herself flying to Italy to meet her soon to be new husband and family, this is the meal they served her. She still remembers it with great detail almost 50 years later!
"Adele sat me at the foot of the table while Papa sat at the head. Andrea and Alfonso sat on Papa's left and Mama and Adele on his right beside me. They served a plate of ziti with a red sauce. There was fresh cheese to grate over the pasta and they tried to serve me wine but I declined. They gave me water with lemon. The huge bowl smelled like nothing I had ever eaten before. It was delicious and I wished I could sit there and eat for a week without stopping."
What a simple meal it was yet she remembers it as if she had it only yesterday.That is what I truly love about Italian food, good food is always good enough. The recipe for this dish is very simple but it does require good ingredients such as fresh herbs, Italian canned tomatoes, good quality pasta, and authentic Parmigiana Reggiano cheese.
|Casolaro Family:Papa, Adele, My Mom & Dad, and Mama|
1 pound Italian thick spaghetti or fat tubular pasta: ziti, rigatoni, penne, etc...
2-28 ounce cans Crushed Italian Tomatoes
1/2 cup dry red wine or dry white wine
1/2 cup of Fresh Basil (1/2 reserved)
1 handful fresh parsley chopped
1/2 teaspoon dry oregano
salt & pepper
extra virgin olive oil
1/2 small/medium onion
2-3 cloves garlic minced
1 tablespoon butter reserved to add at the very end
*OPTIONAL: Parmesan Rind
Mince the garlic and chop the onion finely.
Heat up the pan to medium heat and add enough oil to coat the bottom.
Saute the onion with a large pinch of salt until soft and translucent. You want a low slow cooking as to not brown the onion.
Add garlic and stir it so it does not burn or brown while sauteing it until soft and tender.
Add the oregano rubbing it between your hands to release the oils. Stir allowing it to heat up and release more oils.
Pour in wine, turn up heat and cook out alcohol for a few minutes.
Add tomatoes, pepper, half the basil-torn into smaller pieces, and parsley, stir, taste for salt, and bring to a bubble.
*Note: At this point I also like to a piece of left over Parmigiana rind. I freeze the rinds in small chunks. I seem to never run out and this adds so much flavor.
Lower heat to allow for a slow bubbly simmer and allow it to simmer without a lid.
Cook stirring here and there until it reduces and becomes a thick sauce, about 11/2-2 hours or more.
Serve right away or once it is thick enough turn to low, cover with a tight fitting lid and cook for as long as you desire. The longer the richer the taste the less the fresher tomatoey the taste.
Just before serving add the other half of basil and the butter to the sauce and stir.
Cook the pasta in plenty of well salted water until Al Dente and drain but do not rinse.
In a large serving bowl place half the sauce with the steaming pasta and toss until well coated.
Serve with more sauce on the side and freshly grated Parmigiana Reggiano!