We would start with a mix of artfully prepared appetizers such as stuffed artichokes, shrimp croquettes, and stuffed mushrooms. Coarse two: Pasta. This would be accompanied by a meat platter filled with hot and sweet Italian sausage, the best meatballs, and pork so succulent it would fall apart as you tried to fork a piece. This was followed by a light green salad. And the grand finale: A mix of Italian pastries and fresh fruit served with coffee and Sambucca. You can just imagine the aromas that filled this house every Sunday.
- Olive oil, bite-sized pieces of fresh Parmesan Cheese, and Ecci Panis European Baguette
- Tomato, Mozzarella, Basil Salad
- Macaroni served with Mushroom Tomato Sauce and Succulent Pork
- Cannolis, coffee and Sambuca
The macaroni is served with slow-cooked pork that simmers in a tomato sauce for about 3 hours. At the last hour of cooking I add sauteed Portabella mushrooms. This dish is served with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and served with a nice red wine like Barolo or Chianti Classico Reserve. The recipe that follows serves four hungry Italians.
starters to tease the palette
First things first, pour two glasses of wine. Next pour extra virgin olive oil on a plate; top this with a pinch each of red-hot pepper flakes and Victoria Taylor’s Australian Sea Salt (you have to try this!). Buy the best quality fresh Parmesan cheese you can and break off about 10 bite-sized pieces. Fresh high-quality Parmesan cheese will easily crumble. Place this on a separate plate. Serve this with a loaf of Ecci Panis European baguette, or your bread of choice. Tear of a piece of bread and dip this in the olive oil. Delicious!
Tomato Mozzarella Basil Salad
2 large, ripe Heirloom Tomatoes
1 large ball of fresh Buffalo mozzarella or mini mozzarella balls
5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp balsamic Vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
First and foremost–buy the best quality mozzarella you can find and do not put the cheese in the refrigerator. Mozzarella is best serve at room temperature and refrigeration changes the texture and taste. This one tip makes a world of difference. Being this time of year it was easy to find wonderfully ripe Heirloom tomatoes. Slice the tomatoes and mozzarella in thick slices about 1/2″ thick. Place 4 slices of tomatoes on each plate. Add Salt (Australian Sea Salt Flakes) and pepper to taste. Place 4 mozzarella slices over the tomatoes. Top with 4 whole fresh basil leaves on each slice of cheese–arrange in a cross pattern. Mix together the oil and vinegar and drizzle over each dish. Pour another glass of wine and savor the shared moment with this simply divine dish.
Tomato Sauce with Pork and Mushrooms
The tomato sauce and pork are prepared 3-4 hours before you plan on serving your meal.
2 – 2.5 lbs of pork shoulder
3 tbsp olive oil
3 cans of crushed tomatoes, I prefer Muir Glen organic crushed tomatoes with basil
1 jar of Spicy Dell’Amore premium marinara sauce
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 tsp dried basil
salt salt and pepper to taste
Prepping the Pork
Heat 3 tbsp of olive oil in a large skillet over med-high heat. When hot, add the pork shoulder and cook to brown all sides. Salt and pepper the side facing up and cover the skillet as the hot oil may splatter. After 5-8 minutes turn over and salt and pepper this side facing up. Turn over again–keep cooking until all side are browned. Remove pork from heat and set aside as you prepare the sauce.
Prepping the Sauce
Pour 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot. Add 3 cloves of crushed garlic and cook over medium heat for 2 – 3 minutes until soft. Add 3 cans of the Muir Glen crushed tomatoes and 1 jar of Dell’Amore spicy sauce. Cook over medium high heat until boils. Reduce heat to low and add the browned pork. Simmer on low for 2 hours.
After 2 hours add seasoning: 1 tsp each of salt, pepper and dried basil and the mushrooms (see below), simmer on low for 1 hour.
Preparing the Mushrooms
5-6 Portabello mushrooms, cut into pieces that are about 1.5″ x 1″
1 clove of garlic (large)
1/8 cup red wine
pinch each of salt and pepper
Heat up a skillet with 3 tbsp of olive oil and 2 tbsp butter and 1 large clove of crushed garlic over medium heat. Add mushrooms and salt and pepper to taste. Cover and cook until oil/butter is absorbed, stirring occasionally. Remove cover, add 1/8 cup of red wine and cook until liquid absorbs and mushrooms are browned–about 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon add mushrooms to tomato sauce.
I used two bags (I am serving four) of Cav Giuseppe Cocco Frafila Ruvida di Bronzi Pennoni macaroni made with durum wheat semolina. For two, one bag is plenty. Cook al dente.
Plating the dish
Remove the pork from the sauce and place on a serving dish. Take a fork and slightly shred, separating into serving size pieces. Top pork with the tomato sauce. Place desired portion of macaroni on two plates and spoon the tomato mushroom sauce over the pasta. Add freshly grated Parmesan cheese — I prefer the larger grated setting. Add a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes for added heat. Pour a nice glass of red wine and serve immediately.
Instead of slaving away in the kitchen I bought fresh Cannolis and served this with an espresso and a glass of Sambucca. Be sure to add three coffee beans dropped into the glass of Sambucca to toast to health, happiness and prosperity.
So that is it. My Sunday Pasta tradition recreated. Hope you enjoy it! Mangia!