As children, we knew it was Sunday just by waking to the aromas permeating throughout the house! The onions & garlic sauteing, the browning of the sausages, pork pieces, braciole, and meatballs. On the counter were the cans of tomatoes waiting to be added to bring together our family’s Sunday meat sauce…brings back the best childhood memories of our family’s ritual of making the Sunday sauce or gravy as our Neopolitan Mom and Grandma Florence called it.
It was a time for the whole family to sit down together, enjoy delicious food while catching up with everyone’s life, and we always laughed a lot. With some of us moving to different parts of the country we miss that weekly gathering. To this day, we still make our sauce the very same way. Like any family favorites, we think ours is the Best! So when family members come to visit we recreate those special Sunday dinners and we all just love being together again.
Twiins Family Favorite Sunday Meat Sauce & Pasta Dinner
Homemade Tomato Sauce with Italian Sausages, Pork Country Ribs & Meatballs with Pasta
Fresh Basil Leaveschopped or ribbons for garnish, optional
Add a drizzle of EVOO to 8 qt stock pot and brown all sausages & ribs (it may take 2 batches to complete).
Once browned, remove meat and place in a deep bowl. Set aside.
Add 2 Tablespoons EVOO to the already hot remaining oil & fond in the stockpot (fond is all the wonderful browned pieces of meat that stick to the bottom of the pot). Once the EVOO is hot enough, add diced onion & saute on medium-low heat until they start to carmelize.
Add the minced garlic, fresh basil leaves, 1/2 tsp dried oregano, and stir. Saute until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Add the 2 cans of Hunt's tomato paste. Mix well and cook for about 1 minute. Add the San Marzano Whole Tomatoes. Break up the tomatoes with a fork. The tomatoes will cook down after 4 hours. Add the bottle of Mutti tomato puree then combine well.
Add the sausages and country ribs to the sauce and stir well. Continue cooking sauce on a low simmer for 3-4 hours until ribs and sausages are very tender or start to fall apart.
Prepare the meatball mixture (The Best Napoletana Meatballs recipe). Shape mixture into 1 ½-inch round meatballs (or whatever size you prefer). In a large frying pan pour in enough canola oil to a depth of 1/2-inch. Heat the oil until hot. Add the meatballs and brown on both sides on medium heat. Remove and place in a bowl until 20 minutes before the sauce is done. Don't worry if there are too many meatballs for one dinner. They can be cooked and frozen for another meal or make some delicious meatball parm heroes the next day.
20 minutes before the sauce is done, add the meatballs and stir gently. Continue on a low simmer for 20 minutes.
Once you add the meatballs to the sauce, bring a large pot of water to a boil, add a good amount of salt to the boiling water, then add the pasta and cook according to package directions.
In the meantime, remove all the meat from the saucepot once the meatballs have simmered for 20 minutes in the sauce. Place in a large bowl or platter. After cooking the sauce for 4 hours (or more) the whole tomatoes break down however you can use an immersion blender to smooth it out if you don't like tiny pieces of tomato in your sauce.
Drain the pasta and pour a ladle or two of the sauce on top. Place pasta in a large, deep bowl. Portion out the pasta on individual plates with a meatball, sausage, or piece of rib meat (or all three!)
In our family, we top each plate with a dollop of whole milk ricotta, grated Pecorino Romano cheese, and some chopped fresh basil leaves. Serve with warmed crusty sesame seed Italian bread & butter.
Brown sausages & country ribs
Caramelize onions, add minced garlic, dried oregano, saute then add tomato paste & blend well
Add fresh basil leaves
Simmer for 4 hours
Fry meatballs and add to the sauce for the last 20 minutes of simmering
The last 20 minutes of simmering with the meatballs
Creamy Chicken Florentine with Garlic & Mushrooms - Twiins Style
Our family went wild over this meal! They loved it so much not a morsel was left, not even a single strand of linguine! This amazing dinner is a quick and easy, one-skillet meal that you'll have on the table in less than 30 minutes. Your family or guests will think you slaved all day in the kitchen just for them. It's a win-win for sure. Using pre-sliced gourmet blends of mushrooms makes preparation a snap. The silky smooth creamy sauce will have your family requesting it every week. Buon Appetito!
10-20 ounces fresh baby spinach (use a minimum of 10-oz)
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
Reserve 1 cup cooked pasta water
If you are serving over pasta now is the time to fill your pot with water & bring it to a boil, then add salt to the water.
Season both sides of chicken pieces with salt, pepper, & garlic powder to taste.
In a large skillet heat the EVOO on medium heat. Add the chicken thighs and brown on both sides until the chicken is cooked and no longer pink. Remove from skillet & set aside. Add the chicken tenderloins and brown on both sides until no longer pink. Remove from skillet & add to plate of cooked chicken thighs.
Add mushrooms to skillet & cook until softened, about 3-5 minutes. Stir several times. Remove from skillet & set aside.
Melt the butter in the skillet add minced garlic & tarragon. Saute for 1 minute.
Using a whisk add the flour to the skillet & whisk continuously until starts to thicken.
Add the baby spinach and cook until wilted & sauce thickens.
Add back the mushrooms & all chicken, cover & low simmer for about 5-10 minutes.
Remove chicken to a platter. Don’t drain the pasta…using a pasta ladle or tongs simply scoop all the pasta from the pot of water into the sauce & mix well. If needed add an additional 1/4 – 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta water to the sauce.
Serve or over your favorite pasta with a side salad. Buon Appetito!
Note: Chicken cutlets may be used in place of tenders & thighs.
This recipe was actually a wonderful accident. I defrosted a pound of ground veal only to realize when I started to cook it that it was ground veal chorizo (quite spicy) Well it turned out pretty good and my family enjoyed it so here it is. Enjoy!
1 lb ground veal chorizo (spicy and gives a nice reddish color to the sauce)
2 tablespoons EVOO
1 large onion, finely minced
1 large clove garlic, minced
salt & pepper to taste
1 ½ cups chicken stock
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 Tablespoons capers (optional)
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1 tsp chopped thyme
1/2 tsp rosemary, chopped
1/2 tsp fresh parsley, chopped
12 ounces orecchiette pasta
2 Tablespoons butter
In a large deep skillet, heat EVOO. Add the onion and minced garlic. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until soft, about 4-6 minutes.
Raise heat to high. Add the ground veal then season with salt & pepper. Cook until veal is fully cooked and no longer pink, about 7-8 minutes. Any juices from the veal should be evaporated.
Add the white wine. Bring to a boil. Boil until almost evaporated, about 4-5 minutes. Add the chicken stock, thyme, rosemary, and optional capers then simmer over medium-low heat until reduced by half, about 10 minutes.
Cook the orecchiette according to package directions. Reserve 1/4 cup pasta liquid before draining well. Add the pasta to the skillet. Add the Parmigiano=Reggiano cheese, chopped parsley, and butter. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring frequently until the sauce is thick and creamy, about 1-2 minutes. If too dry, add a little of the reserved pasta water until the consistency desired.
Serve right away with some crusty bread and Enjoy!
Note: You can add vegetables of your choice to make this a one-pan meal.
Teresa made a delicious beef stew the other night and we all enjoyed it. There were about 2 cups of leftovers so we decided to stretch it into a second dinner by adding some mushrooms, red wine, Kalamata olives, leftover green beans, a cup of cherry tomatoes (halved) and 8 oz of uncooked ziti.
No measurements are really needed. Just sauté the mushrooms in a little EVOO or butter, add the wine then leftover stew, simmer about 10-15 minutes. Add the olives & cherry tomatoes. We mixed the cooked & drained ziti with a ladle full of the stew mixture to coat the pasta then put the pasta on individual plates topped with stew mixture & garnished with fresh basil & Locatelli grated cheese.
You could add feta cheese instead of Locatelli if you prefer. Any leftover vegetables will also work well.
This year, 2020, we finally have an abundance of figs from one of Gary's fig trees. He has been growing 2 fig trees for 4 years here in North Carolina. The one we transplanted from our NY home is not as big as the one we purchased here in NC so the figs I used in this recipe are from the NC fig tree. The first couple of years the figs were so sparse that we were lucky to get a few to pop in our mouths for the whole season. In contrast, today we picked so many figs that now we can be creative with different ways to prepare and enjoy them. This fig sauce is so simple to make, does not require any tedious canning, and is delicious with Feta cheese or goat cheese on a cracker, meat & cheese board, or topping chicken or pork. It's naturally sweet without the addition of any sugar, and it's naturally gluten-free. We love it and so do the hubbies! 😋 😋
2 cups ripe figs, stems removed and cut-in-half
1 cup fresh-squeezed orange juice (ready-made is fine)
6 Tablespoons quality Balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp salt
In a medium saucepan, combine all the ingredients together. Bring to a boil.
Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer at least 20-30 minutes until figs are soft enough to mash & liquid is 3/4 evaporated. (It may take longer)
Using a potato masher, mash the mixture. It should look like a loose jam but not watery.
Remove from the heat. Spoon onto your favorite protein or use as an appetizer with goat cheese & crackers.
Note: This recipe can be served at room temperature as an appetizer or hot over your protein. It can be made ahead of time & stored in a covered container in the refrigerator. Will keep for several days refrigerated.
Lately all my friends and neighbors are wondering what to cook since we are all observing the Stay at Home restrictions going on across the country. They are bored and tired of cooking 3 times a day. While checking my text messages I saw one from 'Nextdoor' with the title 'What's for Dinner'. This recipe caught my eye so I decided to give it a try. Wow! I'm so happy I did. Not only is it full of flavor but it's so easy to make. Both Gary & I loved it. I hope Teresa makes this for my niece while she's helping her recuperate. I know they will love it too! 😋❤️
1 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano (freshly grated) (please don’t use the fake stuff in the green container…)
2 cups fresh spinach, chopped
1 cup sun-dried tomatoes (in oil)
In a large skillet add 2-4 Tablespoons EVOO. When oil starts to shimmer, add the chicken and cook on medium-high heat for 3-5 minutes on each side or until golden brown on each side. Don’t crowd the skillet or you’ll get steam instead of browning. Cook until no longer pink in the center. Remove chicken and set aside on a plate.
Add the heavy cream, chicken broth, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Whisk over medium-high heat until it starts to thicken.
Add the spinach and sundried tomatoes. Let simmer until the spinach starts to wilt.
Add the chicken back to the skillet and serve over your favorite pasta.
1. Use genuine Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese that you freshly grate. The pre-grated cheese has additives and makes it ball up instead of melting into the sauce. You may also substitute with Locatelli Pecorino Romano cheese, also freshly grated.
2. Large chicken bone-in chicken thighs can also be used in place of chicken breasts. Just make sure you cook a little longer so they are fully cooked.
Recipe adapted from Alyssa Rivers (The Recipe Critic).
Brown the chicken thighs or chicken breasts on medium-high 3-5 minutes on both sides then set aside on a plate
Add the heavy cream, chicken broth and the dry spices with the grated cheese
As every Italian American cook knows, the basis of a great Sunday dinner in Italian homes is the tomato sauce or gravy as it is lovingly referred to. Our grandmothers from Naples & Sicily both called it gravy. When we were teenagers we questioned why was tomato sauce called gravy as we thought it should be called sauce. I guess it depended on where you grew up and what the custom was for each family. We chose to call it “sauce”. Whether you are making lasagna or spaghetti, a good sauce makes all the difference in the world.
2 (28-ounce) cans San Marzano whole tomatoes (break up with your hands or an immersion blender)
1 lb Italian sweet or hot sausage
1 medium onion, chopped
5-6 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons EVOO
1 Tablespoon salted butter
1/4 tsp dried oregano
fresh basil leaves (cook in sauce plus some for garnish)
Pour 2 tablespoons EVOO in heavy-duty 8-quart pot
When the oil is hot, add sausage links and brown both sides
Remove browned sausage links and set aside.
Add onion and cook until lightly browned and translucent
Add garlic and stir well for 1 minute
Add tomatoes, butter, oregano, and a few basil leaves, and the browned sausages.
Stir well and often to prevent burning on the bottom while simmering for at least 3 hours in order for the sausages to be nice & tender (the longer it cooks the better).
When done, remove the sausage links that can be saved for a different meal or serve with your favorite pasta dish.
Note: Whenever we have leftover pieces of pork we add them to the pot. If you are making meatballs, add them to the pot during the last 20 minutes of cook time.
Growing up in our Italian American household we could always count on one of our favorite meatless meals on a Friday night...Pasta Fasùl. Depending upon the region of Italy your family is from, you may know it as pasta fagioli or pasta fasùl (fazool). Our grandparents were from Naples and Sicily, which shared the same word for beans, fasùl. Technically this dish is a soup; however, we loved it best when most of the liquid dried up & was topped with lots of grated Pecorino Romano cheese. Our Mom always made this with small or medium-sized pasta shells; however, you can use any small pasta in your pantry as we did tonight. This is a very rustic meal but can be dressed up with the addition of any vegetable you have on hand, i.e. spinach, carrots, zucchini, or escarole. To complete this meal, serve with a side salad. Give it a try on those nights you're pressed for time and let us know how you and your family like it.
1 lb. medium or small pasta shells or elbow pasta (we used ditalini as that’s what we had on hand)
10 -12 cloves garlic, smashed
4 cans cannellini beans, do not rinse or drain the liquid
1 cup prepared tomato sauce (preferably homemade or your favorite jar sauce) I also use Hunt’s Tomato Sauce with basil, garlic, and oregano if I don’t have homemade sauce.
1 small can tomato paste plus same can filled with water to dilute (Omit if using Hunt’s Tomato Sauce with basil, garlic, & oregano)
salt to taste
reserve at least 1 cup cooked pasta water
Pecorino Romano grated cheese for topping
Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add a Tablespoon of salt then add pasta. Cook pasta according to package directions. Before draining reserve at least 1 cup of the pasta water then drain pasta & set aside in a large bowl.
In a large, deep skillet on medium heat add EVOO. Add smashed garlic & sauté a minute or two but don’t burn.
Add the 4 cans of cannellini beans and stir well until they begin to boil. Lower heat to medium-low and add 4 cans of Hunt’s Tomato Sauce with basil, garlic & oregano OR 1 cup prepared sauce & small can of tomato paste with a small can of water. Add a little of the reserved pasta water if too thick. Combine well and continue to cook for about 10-15 minutes.
If you prefer a soupier pasta fasùl just add more of the reserved pasta water until it’s the consistency you like.
Let sit for 5-10 minutes in a covered pot before serving.
Top with grated cheese & garnish with fresh basil or parsley (optional)
NOTE: To make this meal gluten-free, just substitute any small-sized gluten-free pasta in place of regular pasta.
This dish thickens as it sits so if you want a thinner sauce, add more liquid in step 3-4 while cooking or add extra sauce.
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Meatless Mediterranean Pasta with Zucchini, Yellow Squash, Tomatoes & Pignoli, Gluten-Free
Difficulty: Very Easy
After our holiday baking was over, we had pignoli left over so we came up with this delicious, healthy recipe to kickstart 2020. Our first recipe for the new year is a meatless Mediterranean dish. In spite of our husbands' carnivore appetites, this meatless dish satisfied them both...we were in heaven! This recipe delivers an exciting depth of flavor with a wonderful blending of ingredients. We think you and your family will love it.
3 pounds zucchini and yellow summer squash, halved lengthwise & sliced 1/2 inch thick
Kosher salt & pepper
1/3 cup pignoli (pine nuts)
1 medium red onion, finely chopped
1 tsp red pepper flakes
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
5 Tablespoons EVOO
1 pound gluten-free pasta (we used Le Veneziane gluten-Free Farfalle)
12 oz cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
2 Tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar
Grated Pecorino Romano
After cutting the zucchini and summer squash, sprinkle with approximately 1 Tablespoon of kosher salt and let drain in a colander for 30 minutes. Pat dry with paper towels & wipe away residual salt. Set aside.
While squash is draining, fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil for the pasta. Once boiling, lower flame to simmer until ready to cook pasta.
In a 12-inch non=stick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of EVOO over high heat. Once it starts to smoke, add half the squash and cook until slightly charred, turning occasionally, approximately 5-6 minutes. Reduce heat if the skillet starts to overheat. Transfer to a large plate then repeat step 3 with the remaining half of squash and another tablespoon of EVOO. Transfer 2nd batch to plate and set aside.
Bring water to full boil and add salt then the pasta. Cook according to package directions, reserving 1 cup of cooked pasta water.
In the same skillet, heat another tablespoon of EVOO. Add pignoli and toast lightly, then add red onion, garlic, and pepper flakes. Cook approximately 1 minute until fragrant.
Drain pasta (reserve 1 cup of pasta water) then return pasta to the pot. Add the squash, tomatoes, pignoli mixture, vinegar, basil, and remaining 2 Tablespoons of EVOO. Mix well to combine.
Add enough reserved pasta water to keep moist consistency but not soupy. You may not need the whole cup. Lightly drizzle with EVOO and top with grated cheese.
Char the sliced squash
toast pignoli then add red onion, garlic and pepper flakes
Mix everything into the cooked pasta
Place on serving platter
Top with grated cheese & Enjoy
Note: If gluten is not an issue, use your favorite brand of pasta. If your family must have meat, feel free to add whatever they like.