As promised tonight you’ll be treated to a great classic Italian dinner. I promise that you can feed a family of 6 with it (I do)… The catch here? Well there is a “special” ingredient that I’m going to ask you to use that you might just turn your nose up at. So before you read on, raise your right hand and say the following:
“I do solemnly swear that I trust this complete stranger, for whom my only knowledge of, comes from her blog. She could very well be a total nut case. But, she does CLAIM to have gone to at least one or more culinary classes. I rest my faith in her proclamation that she is married to the son of Italian food snobs from the old country. This may just be another of many figments of her imagination, still I will again trust her. And I promise that as long as her secret ingredient is legal in at least 28 states I WILL use it”
Alrighty now that you’ve take the oath of the red sauce, I bet you want to know what the secret ingredient is.. back off man I’m gettin’ to it! he he.. Let’s first start with the rest of the must haves. I’m also sticking in there the average prices for each so I can work my cheap magic on ya while I temp your taste buds. Here is what you’ll need:
1 can of diced or crushed tomatoes, with garlic, basil, olive oil and if you can find it oregano. (Average cost $1)
Now I like Hunts and if I’m splurging I get good imported ones but if you are in this for the cheap go with what is on sale. Often these toms will go for 10 for $10, with coupons you can get them even cheaper. I got the Hunts I used tonight for .33 cents each.
2-4 cloves fresh garlic. (Average cost per head .50)
The amount is purely a taste thing. In my book there is no such thing as too much of the stinky rose, which is what garlic translates to, wha la a language lesson too!
1/2 to 1 medium yellow onion (Average cost .70)
Again portion is a taste thing.
1 tsp salt. (already in your pantry.. bonus!)
1/2 tsp black pepper (once again, you’ve got this so BONUS)
1 tbsp olive oil (you should have this too, if not the cost per this serving is about .10)
1 box of any pasta you want (these you can get 10 for $10 as well, I used Barilla Rigatoni tonight. I picked it up 4 for $4 and used a $1 coupon, total cost .75)
1/2 cup freshly grated (not from a can or tub) Parmesan cheese (Average cost per chunk about $8, cost for this dish .75)
Here is the thing with the good cheese. Yeah it’s expensive. BUT, you are going to use it in so many things that the cost per dish is usually less than a buck. Why not get the powdered canned stuff? A side from the ewww factor my tummy gets when I think about cheese in a can, there are the sodium levels.. OFF THE CHART.. and the bang for your buck is much less. I recently converted my mom to the artisan cheese movement after years of addiction to cheese in a sparkly green can (my mom, like a parrot is drawn to shiny things). She could NOT believe how much a difference it made. Now she won’t even touch the dry stuff. This cheese is something worth paying for, honestly. It’s sort of like shoes, sure the ones from Payless are cute but after you wear them once they make your feet smell.. nice picture for this post eh?
And now to the secret ingredient.. hold on to your keyboards kids..
Yep that is Anchovies! Now don’t gag, really I wouldn’t steer you wrong and I DO understand your hesitation.. I mean who ever thought of cooking with cured, hairy fish fillets? eeew with a capitol E. To be honest until about 5 years ago you couldn’t pay me to eat anything with one of these puppies in it. It was in keeping with my, I’ll try anything once and my impress the in laws, credos that I tried them. HOLY mackerel! well anchovies but you get the point. When cooked PROPERLY they have absolutely no fish taste and no funky fish hair in your dish. The key is to melt them into the base flavors of what you are cooking. They break up and dissolve like jello does. So my kids have no idea why they are always in the pantry, because they are 100% sure they have NEVER touched one of the yuckie things. For this dish I add.
2 flat anchovy fillets (cost per can $4, from one can you can get about 6 dishes so total cost here is .66)
I realize, like always, I’ve gotten really wordy! So here is the short and sweet of it:
1 can diced or crushed tomatoes w/garlic, basil and olive oil
2-4 cloves garlic
1/2-1 medium yellow onion
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 tbsp olive oil
2 flat anchovy fillets
So here is what I do. I chop the onion finely (of course cuz I’m so Fine..eh?). The garlic gets minced. I put them with the olive oil in a pan on med high heat and let them groove until the onion is looking pale. Then I add in the funky fish. Smoosh it around and watch it disappear! Then in goes the Matoes, salt and pepper. I then crush them up some more with a tater smasher. Or if I’m lazy I leave em alone and call it “Rustic Cuisine”. Cook up the pasta in water with salt and a touch of oil. The salt gives more flavor the the macaroni (I learned this is the “Italian” word for ALL pasta) and the oil keeps it from sticking. Heat the sauce through and add the cheese, cook until it melts in.
Ta Da.. RED SAUCE ala DiPaolamomma!
Oh did you see some bread in my fancy, food styled ala ME dish there? What’s a pasta dish without bread.. and I can give ya that and stay under that $8 too! I used a can of thin pizza crust dough (got it on sale, duh! Paid .80). I cooked it on my pizza stone with a little olive oil, salt, garlic powder, dried Italian seasoning and a sprinkling of that cheese.. pretty much free. And get your greens in too. I made a baby spinach salad with a simple olive oil and lemon dressing (spinach $2.60, lemon $1)… total cost $7.86!!!!
Now this is just a base sauce. I make it in big batches sometimes and just add to it. Tonight I browned half a pound of chop meat (or that is what my mother-in-law calls it, I call it ground beef). Then I tossed in some mushrooms and 1/4 cup of bread crumbs (to thicken it up), and 1/2 cup of red wine. Dump it over rigatoni and wha La there you have a good Bolinase!
Speaking of that fine wine… I made that too! Yep, with the help (okay a lot of help) from my hubby and drawing on the long DiPaola family tradition we make wine. This one was a Cabernet. Of course I put my spin on it, the grapes came from California…shout out to my home state! The title of this year’s Cabernet is “Desiderare Sangue”.. in Italian this means “I want blood”.. an homage not just to the fact that hubby and I dig Vampire flicks and books. But also to our two toddlers. Once, while daddy and I were enjoying a glass, one of them asked what it was. He said “blood” so every time we have a glass of wine they say “I want blood”. Yep everything in my life is some how kid related!
Now why should you care? Cuz you heart me of course.. oh, that’s not enough for you? My my I’ve spoiled you with this whole give away thing huh? Well I guess I can’t break with tradition, can I? So here you go, a contest for this week. Leave a comment for me, tell me what your favorite meal is. I’ll pick a winner this Friday and if she (or he) is up for it maybe they will share the recipe with the rest of the class! I’ll feature that recipe and the winner on Sunday.
See I told ya I’d find a way to give something else away this week! The question is, am I done? I guess you’ll just have to keep coming back!!
Sorry kiddos but I can only offer this prize to a U.S. resident. I’m not being snobby, just cheap, it costs do darn much to mail things outside the country.