One of my favorite memories of all times was dinner for six in the kitchen at the home of our friend, the famous French chef, Jacques Pepin, and his lovely wife Gloria. The other guests were the brilliant Morley Safer, journalist and host of CBS’s 60 Minutes, and his wife Jane. We sat around the center island, I feeling somewhat intimidated, sipping delicious French wine as we watched Jacque, this iconic world-renowned chef, whip up a magnificent duck with cranberry sauce. I was focusing so hard, I’m quite sure I didn’t even blink. The conversation was scintillating and intellectual, while the demonstration was a culinary excursion like no other. So much fun! From that point forward, my favorite thing to do is to have friends in for “dinner in the kitchen”.
It was here I learned that dinner in the kitchen can be as elegant as anywhere, that interesting people make for an interesting party and that a relaxed and fun host and chef makes for a relaxed and fun group of guests!
I’m an Italian food enthusiast. Okay, that’s probably putting it mildly. To put it another way, my mother-in-law used to laugh and say, “Penny would have cold rigatoni for breakfast everyday if she could!” And she was right. I love everything about Italian food, the romance associated with it, the traditions, the bright colors and the love that sits at the bottom of the pot of Sunday sauce! Whether we are in Florida or Nantucket, most Sundays begin with the Sunday sauce which I get up and start before my coffee. I love to smell the garlic sautéing and the sauce simmering for hours (with football on in the background all day!). Sunday sauce means different things to different people. Growing up, our sauce began by browning braciole (stuffed with garlic, parmesan and parsley and tied up with kitchen string), sausage and pork as the base. Today, we’re focused on a healthier approach to eating, cooking with less fat and fewer saturated oils, while still getting our robust flavors, but from herbs and spices, rather than from meats. Our Sunday sauce is a clean and simple Pomodoro sauce cooked with fresh plum tomatoes, basil, parsley, salt & pepper, crushed red pepper, garlic and olive oil.
NOTE: I like to use a combination of fresh tomatoes and can tomatoes for larger batches. If you want a bigger batch use the 28 oz cans of San Marzano tomatoes with a ratio of 1 can of crushed tomatoes to 1 can of plum and 1 can of paste. (1-1-1)
This sauce can be made quickly, if need be, but tastes even better when simmered for hours. And it is especially tasty the next day! Not only will your family and friends enjoy a delicious meal, you will reap the benefits of a whole day of the best a ”ROMA”therapy!
Total Cooking Time: 2-3 hours
Total Prep Time: 20 minutes
Yields: 4 servings