Shortly before I hosted my Italian Party book club dinner, Deb Perelman wrote about the challenge of making the perfect three-ingredient Cacio e Pepe and published her foolproof recipe on Smitten Kitchen. It was the perfect complement to the stew of kale, tomatoes, and beans known as Ribollita.
On my road trip earlier this year, a family friend invited us to his lake house and served pasta with a tomato sauce much like this one. He sautéed his vegetables first, and said that you can use bell peppers, zucchini, or any other veggie you have on hand.
Once you run everything through the food processor, you’d never know the veggies were there, except the flavor of the sauce is a little richer. This is a great way to use up leftover vegetables, especially if you have kids who need more veggies in their diets.
Caramelize onions and roasted peppers, add a bit of butter and broth, and then swirl in cooked linguine and top with crumbled feta cheese. Doni serves this with pesto-crusted chicken breasts.
This combination of my grandmother’s recipe for spaghetti sauce and my mother’s meatball recipe is a family treasure and a Christmas Eve tradition – whether we’re together or apart, we always have spaghetti and meatballs.
The sauce, which simmers in the slow cooker all day, starts with garlic warmed in olive oil and includes a distinctive scent of celery seed. Bread, eggs, and Parmesan cheese make the meatballs tender. Brown them and add them to the sauce in the last 30 minutes.