Sunday, March 8, 2009

Sunday Pasta Dinner and Festa Italiana

Two fabulous Italian bloggers are hosting a Festa Italiana-photos and recipes of Italian dishes made by other bloggers. The host blogs are Finding La Dolce Vita and Proud Italian Cook Please check-out both of these wonderful blogs, and all the drool-worthy Italian dishes.

My contribution to the Festa Italiana is our favorite Sunday Pasta Dinner. Growing up, we had a tradition of having big family dinners at my Grandparent's house on Sundays. Though my grandparents are no longer with us, my brother and his wonderful wife have kept up the tradition by having Sunday dinners at their house. It's always a treat when I go back home to visit-having everyone together enjoying a delicious meal.

Dave and I don't necessarily have big weekend meals as we usually have a bunch of things to do; but sometimes, I'll make something special and we'll have a Sunday feast. A couple weeks ago I made my roasted vegetable marinara sauce and spaghetti. The sauce was delicious, and though the recipe sounds a bit convoluted, it's actually easy to make and can be made ahead of time.

This is Dave's favorite sauce, and he is just as happy to eat it out of the pot with bread, as he is to eat it with pasta. It's a two part recipe: first I roast some vegetables in the oven, and then I make the sauce with the vegetables. For this version I roasted some eggplant, onions, carrots, and yellow squash. Cut up the vegetables into 1 inch pieces. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast in a 350F oven until tender. I used 1 eggplant, 1 onion, 3-4 carrots, and 3-4 yellow squash. I made enough vegetables to use for the sauce, plus I had lots extra to make sandwiches with.

When the vegetable are cool, puree 1 -2 cups in a food processor, or smash them up with the back of a spoon. Add to your sauce pot. Add 1 32 ounce can of peeled whole tomatoes that have been crushed by hand or food processor to the pot with all the juice in the can. Add 1 can of tomato paste and about 1 cup of water. Heat the sauce until it comes to a boil and then lower the heat to simmer. Be careful not to let the sauce scorch on the bottom-stir frequently. If the sauce gets too thick, add some more water.

This is what I use as seasoning for the sauce, it's all to taste: salt, pepper, hot sauce, red pepper flakes, a couple of smashed garlic cloves, ground fennel and/or fennel pollen, a few fresh basil leaves, a little Italian seasoning blend, and some celery salt. If you want a richer sauce you can add a couple tablespoons of butter, or of course leave it out for a vegan sauce.

Simmer the sauce on very low for an hour or so as you want all the flavors to marry. This sauce is good on pasta, pizza, sandwiches, vegetables, etc.
I used some of the sauce to make pizza sandwiches. Sauce and cheese on bread, heated in the oven.

If you can find them, San Marzano tomatoes from Italy are very delicious. If the tomatoes you use are not inherently sweet, you can add a pinch of sugar to the sauce. It you have access to wonderful fresh tomatoes, feel free to use those. Lucky you!

I hope this inspires you to have a delicious, home-cooked meal surrouned by your loved ones.


  1. I love the food you make :) this looks awesome-

  2. Oh man, everything looks delicious--but that pizza sandwich is calling my name!

  3. Thank you so much Lauren and pinkstripes!

  4. Pasta one of my favorite meals. Phil and Cheryl had Sergio's gnocci and vodka sauce for me yesterday for my birthday dinner. It was delicious. :)

  5. Thanks for pointing out that I'm your brother's "wonderful" wife. I loved going by your grandma and grandpa's house every Sunday. It was not a chore but a joy. I really miss it. Now, we are fortunate to do the same thing and we tell all our friends and family, it is open house on Sunday. Just come by and we'll have a great meal cooked by my wonderful husband. You two actually share a love of cooking. Mangia!

  6. oooo! Let me dip my bread in that lovely sauce!
    Thanks for joining our festa!
    Maryann xox

  7. Sandy - I hope you have a fun birthday!

    Cheryl - One of the best parts of spending Sundays at your house is getting to hang-out with Miss Marisa. Spending a couple hours with her hiding in the closet was just too much fun! (Though a bit painful!)

  8. Cheryl - True! Phil and I do love cooking. Both of our grandmothers were such amazing cooks.

  9. Maryann - Thank you for hosting the wonderful Fiesta! It is fun to see all the amazing Italian dishes the other bloggers make.

    I am so happy that I discovered your blog-it's addictive.

  10. Michele, I'm ready to twirl my fork around your wonderful pasta at the festa. Thank you so much for joining us and bringing this beautiful dish!
    xox, Marie

  11. Thank you for hosting such a fun event Marie! I love your blog and have been a regular reader for a long time.

  12. The sauce sounds amazing! We are bread dippers too. Yum!

  13. Thank you! I love your post on the delicious coffee you made!

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