4 Italian Recipes You Must Make

4 Italian Recipes You Must Make

I want you to enjoy the Italian recipes that we grew up on that not only remind me of home and my family, but also helped keep my Italian blood running thick.

My Dad’s Mom was 100% Italian which makes me 25% Italian.  I am also Irish, German, Scottish, Welsh…..but it is the Italian blood that seems to run the thickest. My eye color and hair color are as dark as it comes naturally. I speak with my hands as if you couldn’t hear the words coming out of my mouth. And, when we sit down to one meal, we are already planning the next.

This love of and immense respect for food is definitely in the Italian side of my family, and it has been an extreme influence on me.  I grew up hearing stories of the fresh figs that my Great Uncle Frank’s grocery store “Big Tree” carried, and that inspires me to buy figs when they are finally in season.  My Great Aunt Norma hosted a cooking TV show in the 1950s and that gives me the confidence that what we are doing is in my blood.  And still to this day I have not been able to find the exact Pecorino Romano I remember from my Grandma’s house when she served “psghetti”.

After my Mom (petite blonde-haired, blue eyed) married my father, she learned quickly how to cook his favorite Italian dishes. My Mom’s Italian food is so good you would never guess she’s not Italian. Her marinara is better than any red sauce, and her pesto is lovingly picked and cleaned, making it hard to find any pesto quite like it.  I want you to enjoy the Italian recipes that we grew up on that not only remind me of home and my family, but also helped keep my Italian blood running thick.

Braciole. Flank steak, stuffed with Italian cured meats and cheeses, slowly braised in marinara sauce.  When my dad was a little boy, after they would make braciole, the kids would argue over who would get to taste the butcher’s twine that bound the meat.  It may sound a little strange but wait until you get a piece of the action – it is delicious and filled with flavor.

Pesto. Growing up, we always called it “paste-o”. It was the only thing green I would eat for a really long time. It also helped me make friends in high school. While other kids would pull our PB&Js I would get chicken picatta and pesto. Luckily my Mom always packed more than enough for me to share with friends.

Sauce. Some Italians call it gravy, but it was simply called sauce in our house.  When I was growing up, every Monday and Wednesday nights were sauce nights.  When you graduated high school you received one-on-one teaching on how to make Aunt Norma’s sauce.  It’s one of the few recipes you follow to a “T”.  If you decide to experiment, it’s not Aunt Norma’s.  If you don’t measure everything, it’s not Aunt Norma’s.  If you don’t buy the right tomatoes, it’s not Aunt Norma’s.  This sauce might very well be running through my veins.

red sauce recipe of aunt norma's

Gnocchi. My Dad use to go to a small neighborhood market and buy the frozen gnocchi when they first came on the market. We would boil them and eat them at least once a week and they were delicious. Then my Mom went to Italy with Kelly for her first time. She ate a restaurant owned by a man name Dino Martino and he served her fresh gnocchi with a cream marinara sauce, fresh torn basil, and fresh mozzarella. It became my goal to make this for her. I started practicing this recipe in junior high and tried a couple times each year to find the perfect balance of potato to flour that would give me the perfect amount of fluffiness. I remember making gnocchi for my high school boyfriend and they were mush.  Now, probably 10 years since I start trying, I feel very confident in my gnocchi skills.


Comments, Rating & Reviews

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  1. By s I wpuldandy turner | September 15, 2012

    do you send the recipes ? i would like the marinara sauce. I like the ones with big chucks of tomatoes. thank you sandy

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  2. By Sam Elbe | September 22, 2012

    If you share them with me I will share with you my Italian Chili recipe that I has won numerous chili cooking contest with. As a matter of fact, my daughter brewed up a pot and went to a chili cookout in CA and the stuff just disappeared, even the pot was wiped clean with bread. If you make it just like I do it is called “Sam’s Italian Chili” change anything and that pot full is Caitlin’s Italian Chili..

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  3. By Ellen Rismondo | September 22, 2012

    My great-grandmother’s braciole was stuffed with seasoned bread crumbs, parmesan, chopped hard-boiled eggs mixed with an egg. It was always quite a treat. I agree about the string – oh so tasty! Please post your recipe as it is always fun to try other’s family recipes.

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  4. By Tom | September 22, 2012

    It’s all in the sauce.

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