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So many of the meals I ate when I was growing up were recipes straight from Italy; passed down from generation to generation. This unfortunately has become a lost art these days.
I still pass on my recipes to my son; because I want our traditions to continue.
My grandmother taught her children the basics of cooking and her meals were considered “peasant food”. She made great meals with simple ingredients.
Peasant food or “LaCucina Provera” was simply making a little go a long way with whatever was available. My grandmother could make a meal out of anything.
It always amazed me what she could prepare with just a few items in the pantry and refrigerator. Better than any restaurant.
Today the same recipes are considered “nouvelle cuisine” and have had an upsurge in popularity. You can now pay a high price for the same “peasant meal” you had as a child.
But it will never taste as good as your mother’s or nonna’s.
I have many favorite meals that my mother made when I was a child and I only wish I had written most of the recipes down. Something you just never think of doing as a child, because you never think that someday your mom won’t be around.
I am writing many of my recipes down for my son and making a family cookbook. I recommend you do the same for your family.
My mother never needed a cookbook, it was all by memory of what she was taught by my grandmother.
One of my favorite meals is Ceci (chickpeas) with Sausage and Shell Macaroni.
So here is the recipe I would like to share with you. A quick satisfying weeknight meal served with fresh Italian bread.
Simple and delicious from my memory, taught by my mother.
I hope you try it and enjoy.
- 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced – or more garlic if you are like me…
- 1 sprig of fresh rosemary
- 3 tbsp. olive oil
- 2-3 (28 oz) cans of whole San Marzano tomatoes – crushed by hand or chopped- DOP from Italy are the best. I use Cento or Vantia.
- Cooks Note: USE three cans if you want a lot of sauce
- 2 large cans of chickpeas – drained and rinsed
- 1 (16 oz) box of shell pasta – small or large shells, your choice
- Salt and pepper
- 4 sausages – casings removed
- Cooks Note: Add a splash of wine to the sausage to make it easier to break up into pieces to saute
- 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
- basil – chiffonade
- 1 tsp. dried oregano
- 2 tbsp. flat leaf parsley – finely chopped
- grated Locatelli cheese (use whatever cheese you prefer)
- 1 tbsp. tomato paste
- 1/4 cup red wine
Cooks note: If you have a Parmesan rind, add it to the sauce with the tomatoes. Adds great flavor.
Cook the macaroni separately, following package directions until slightly underdone for al dente.
Prepare your ingredients to saute.
Saute the garlic in olive oil with the sprig of rosemary and red pepper flakes for one minute. Add a pinch of salt.
Add the sausage pieces. I used a combination of hot and sweet fennel sausage.
When the sausage is lightly browned and cooked through (5-7 minutes)
Add the tomato paste and toast the paste for 30 seconds before mixing.
ADD 1/4 cup of red wine (alcohol with burn off) and scrape the brown bits from the bottom of the pan (that will give the sauce great flavor).
Remove the sprig of rosemary and ADD the chopped tomatoes, oregano, parsley and Parmesan rind, if using. Stir and simmer on medium low for 15-20 minutes, partially covered.
After 20 minutes, ADD the ceci (chickpeas) and simmer for 5 minutes more.
Cooks note: If you want a thicker sauce, remove some chickpeas, mash them and return them to the pot. They will melt into the sauce and thicken.
ADD the cooked macaroni to the sauce, stir and simmer for two minutes until al dente.
When the macaroni is al dente, turn off the heat, add the basil, cover the pot and allow it to rest for a few minutes.
Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve with grated cheese on top.
A drizzle of olive oil can also be added to the top of the macaroni.
Now enjoy !
I hope you try this simple “peasant food” dish and enjoy it with your family.
Until my next post, make every day a celebration!
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