Wednesday, April 17, 2013

A Pot Full of Memories

Growing up, we had pasta once a week, minimum. Tuesdays were the main pasta day, having either spaghetti or penne. And when I was really young, I would have pasta once a week with my grandparents. Actually, if it was Wednesday we had macaroni, and if it was Sunday we had pasta. Because that's the way my grandfather wanted it. I vividly remember those dinners, my grandfather scraping his fork along the plate to get every last bit of my grandmother's sauce, and my grandmother scolding him. "Stop that! That's what the bread is for!"

Not that anyone could blame him. My grandmother made such a wonderful sauce. Growing up she would make her slow sauce on Sundays. It's wonderful aroma would fill the house, and we would all take turns sneaking a slice of Italian bread and dipping it in the simmering sauce. My dad has even said one of his favorite things about dating my mom was dropping her off back home on a Saturday evening. They would go see a movie, get burgers at the diner, and even though they were packed, my grandmother would have her sauce on the stove, and they would dip a slice or two of bread in for a taste.

Yes, we have such wonderful memories of pasta and sauce.

And I want to share those memories with my son. And I do ... over a bowl of pasta.

But I'm not content to have the same sauce week after week. (Maybe it's because it's not as good as my grandmother's.) One week we'll have a meat gravy. Another week, a bolognese. And another week, a marinara.

I've found marinara sauce harder to master, though, on my own. So after a few failed attempts it dawned on me: Giada De Laurentiis. So I pulled out her Everyday Italian and turned to the Sauces section. Lo and behold, there was a wonderful recipe for a marinara sauce!

I've made it a few times, serving it over spaghetti, and it's been a huge it -- especially with my son. It's also lighter than the traditional sauce I grew up with, and as the warmer weather settles in and makes itself at home, I'm happy to indulge in this fresher sauce.

Marinara Sauce

Recipe from Giada De Laurentiis
Makes about 2 quarts (8 cups)


  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 small onions, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
  • 2 (32-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes
  • 2 dried bay leaves


  1. In a large pot, heat the oil over a medium-high flame. Add the onions and garlic and sauté until the onions are translucent, about 10 minutes.
  2. Add the celery, carrots, and 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Sauté until all the vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes.
  3. Add the tomatoes and bay leaves, and simmer uncovered over low heat until the sauce thickens, about 1 hour.
  4. Remove and discard bay leaves. Season the sauce with more salt and pepper to taste.

Note from the chef: The sauce can be made 1 day ahead. Cool, then cover and refrigerate. Rewarm over medium heat before using.

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