I have had my share of missteps while attempting to make the perfect lasagna. It seems so easy right? Just layer a ton of ingredients into a pan and bake it, and out comes oozy, cheesy, decadent Italian-Americana on a plate, right? Not for me! I have made too-dry lasagna, too-soggy lasagna, noodles undercooked on the sides and can’t cut them lasagna (that was on a Christmas Eve–I made them again), overflows into the oven and burns lasagna, takes all day and just tastes ok lasagna, and then I finally had a day when I made it just right. I took it out of the oven, let it sit for just a few moments, sliced into it, and there it was! Savory and flavorful, cheesy but not obscenely cheesy, with enough texture to hold its shape, I give this recipe to you and say, enjoy! It took many trays of disappointment for me to get here!
My love of meatballs goes back to my days as a visiting kid at my Italian grandmother’s house on Long Island. We never, I mean never, went hungry over there, and were offered a meatball, or a “meat-a-ball” almost as soon as we came in the door. We would pull up a seat at the table that consistently could seat 12, and savor our bowl of meatballs, extra sauce, and homemade pizza bread. Then we raided the fridge for the peanut butter cups tucked in there! I needed to recreate that comfort food for my boys. Little did I know that it would become one of their favorite meals, so I couldn’t always wait until the weekend to make them. I have been experimenting and perfecting this recipe for years, and I have it down to the essentials…give it a try and I hope you love them. My guys prefer the more tender texture of turkey to beef, plus it’s much lower in saturated fat. It just translates into being able to eat this more often!
This soup is like therapy. Both preparing it and eating it will make you feel better about what ails you. I decided to try this recipe after seeing Ina (we’re on a first-name basis now, me and Ina Garten) prepare this on her show, Barefoot Contessa, and she included it in her latest cookbook, Foolproof. I changed just a few things (for example, I use regular bacon instead of more expensive pancetta, and I chopped up fresh basil and tossed in a parmesan rind instead of using store-bought pesto), and the results spoke for themselves. My family finished the pot and requested I make it again! You will think I am making this up, but my 4-year-old ate his whole bowl and my almost 2-year-old (gasp–he is getting big too fast) got seconds! We paired it with my husband Mike’s homemade sourdough bread and some crisp Pinot Grigio. Magic.
P.S. Mike and I go to see Ina this week at her book signing, I can’t wait!
Happy New Year, everyone! I’m back and ready to inspire some amazing dishes for 2013. This dish comes fresh from my new cookbook obsession: Lidia’s Favorite Recipes. I am working on cooking my way through this petite powerhouse of an Italian cookbook. It has all the ingredients that make me love cookbooks: clearly written, well-tested recipes, and ingredients you can truly find at the supermarket. I haven’t made it past the crave-worthy pasta section yet, but I swear I will someday. I only changed a few things to give my own spin on this dish, I hope you try it and love it as much as my family did. It was our Christmas Eve dinner and it made us feel very celebratory!
So after three years of belonging to our farm, Powisset Farm in Dover, MA, they finally wore me down with the abundance of tomatoes! I started by trying to use the pounds and pounds of tomatoes in regular salads (literally, we just got 3 weeks in a row of 7 pounds or more each time!). Then came the Caprese salads. And now, I just need to use these guys up! Forget salads, it’s time to cook them into sauce and use them in every last thing I can think of: pasta and meatballs, tortilla soup, chili, eggplant and chicken parmesan, or just dunk a hunk of bread into it. Before you dismiss this recipe for fear it’s difficult or time consuming, I can assure you it’s really not bad at all, and think of the acclaim you’ll receive! You’ll just smile and say, “Oh, that’s fresh tomato sauce.” And you can also reclaim some of your counter space that previously housed tons of tomatoes…