Monthly Archives: January 2012

National Spaghetti Day

Source: www.examiner.com  –  By Steph Bombardieri, Fresno Food Examiner

Happy National Spaghetti Day!  While you might be tempted to make reservations at your favorite trattoria, you’d be surprised to know that despite legend (and stereotype) Italian’s are not the first to create the elongated noodle. It was the Chinese and even some say that the German’s were making pasta in shapes of swords and animals.

Hungry for a little more pasta history?

The firstAmerican pasta factory was opened in Brooklyn, New York, in 1848, by a Antoine Zerega. Mr. Zerega used one horse in his basement to run his machine and to dry the horse powered pasta? He placed strands of the pasta on the roof to dry in the sun.

Christopher Columbus, one of Italy’s most famous pastaphiles, was born in October, National Pasta Month.

Meatballs are an American invention. The Italian’s did not eat much meat and when they came to America, meat was more readily available, so more meat was incorporated in the pasta dishes.

Pasta is a carb loading staple but it also contains protein. You can find many different forms of manufactured pasta these days including whole wheat and protein enriched.

So for me, a good sauce is something that I like to let cook for hours. I typically use canned tomatoes and sauce, a little tomato paste, some Italian seasonings, garlic (fresh if at all possible) and a good red wine. Depending on my mood and who is coming to dinner I lean toward a chunky sauce including onions and bell peppers, sometimes mushrooms. Nothing in my sauce goes in raw.  All veggies get sautéed first.  After everything is incorporated, it’s time for the meatball mix.  Up until two years ago, I only used ground beef.  These days I’m finding that a ground beef, ground sausage and ground turkey trio give depth of flavor and extra goodness to my meatballs.  Egg, breadcrumbs, seasonings, garlic and fresh grated cheese are added to the mix and then browned all the way around before I add to the sauce. I put a lid on the whole thing and let it simmer for several hours.  Of course, a few chunks of bread are on hand for mid simmer tasting – quality control of course!

While long strands of perfectly cooked spaghetti are the standard for the meatball and sauce dish, I’m partial to the smaller pieces of pasta, such as shells or elbows.  In a healthy mood? If a work out at the gym is just too good to waste on this filling but fattening favorite – put your recipe into health mode. The above mentioned selection of whole wheat or protein enriched pastas go well with some garden fresh tomatoes and lean ground turkey.  During the summer when our garden is overflowing with different varieties of tomatoes, a quick wash and chop will do. A little olive oil, seasonings and to add some protein, lean ground turkey go well together. You have more a fresh, authentic sauce atop your pasta – Perfection!

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