Easy At Home Italian

5 simple weeknight meals


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Easy At Home Italian Growing up in my house, easy weeknight meals meant spaghetti with red sauce. If the night was planned ahead, meatballs would be thrown in too. While this classic is a standard which now fills up both my kitchen and soul with yummy nostalgic smells and flavors of childhood, there are plenty of other super easy, weeknight-friendly Italian-style meals worth trying. 

Of course there are the go-to dishes to swap in depending on your intentions. A large, piping hot platter of baked ziti is just the thing for a ravenous crowd, and the addition of some sauteed ground beef makes for a killer bolognese, but what about some new takes on those oldie but goodies as well? 

With single ingredient swaps producing a whole new spin on the classics, creating an original dish each night of the week is more than doable.

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  • Snooth User: Zawacki
    479089 15

    Gross. Jarred sauce, seriously....? NO self respecting Italian "Mamma" I have ever known would serve this stuff. These days even the laziest person can make a far superior sauce just about as simply and nearly as quickly without all the garbage that goes into these store bought jars of crap...Even the cooking impaired can surely
    Google Mario Batali's Basic Tomato Sauce.

    Apr 18, 2012 at 5:29 PM

  • You are being a bit precious "Zawacki" I am guessing you are a bloke.

    I have been a "most self respecting Italian Mamma" type, who loves cooking for the past 40+ years, but believe me, there are times when knowing you can grab a jar of ready made sauce off a shelf in a hurry is a bonus. And sshh, my very Italian husband never spots the difference from the home made stuff !
    There is a time and a season and reason for everything ! And not everyone in this day and age or who reads these articles wants to be"a self respecting Italian Mama" . That expression belongs to an era when women stayed home to feed their men. Today we have a life too ! Usually a very busy one.
    This article is after all titled "Easy at home Italian" … The recipes suggested are godsends for when we fall in the door needing to put a meal together in a hurry, or when we are just plain tired …. and are a whole lot better option than resorting to takeaway.


    Apr 18, 2012 at 7:14 PM

  • Snooth User: Zawacki
    479089 15

    Yes momma. I suppose I am precious but I am thinking that the meaning of that word there isn't the same as here :). Yes, I am a "bloke" and have cooked for my children and grandchildren for many years as well but I can honestly say that in all my upbringing I have never met an Italian woman (from my era at least lol :) that would be caught dead using a bottled sauce. To each his own I suppose and I respect your opinion but I will simply agree to disagree. Although I concede it must be better than takeaway (or what's known here in the US as take-out) it really isn't something I would ever serve or eat on purpose. It is simply too easy to make a much better tasting sauce that is better for you and it really isn't any effort in great trouble even at the end of a hard days work.

    PS~ I won't tell your husband but I will give him credit for not telling you if he (as I suspect) does know the difference from your home made to a simply doctored version of a jarred sauce. A smart man knows when to keep his mouth shut and how to keep a happy home ;)

    Best wishes to you. Buon appetito!

    Apr 19, 2012 at 2:33 PM

  • Oh do I do like a good verbal stoush - words and cooking are all part of the rich tapestry of life - wherever we are in the world.

    I had a look at the recipe you suggested and was fascinated to read Mario Batali's recipe uses canned tomatoes. OMG ! Commercial or canned tomatoes are an anathema in our books - in this family we only use our own pure 100% tomato puree - a big bottling once a year sees us through and our friends queue for it. That caned stuff has citric acid, water and sometimes sugar added.

    And I have been kinda thinking about the lazy cooks jibe - you know there is absolutely nothing wrong with being 'lazy' when it comes to cooking sometimes - I bet most blokes who pride themselves on cooking don't also have to juggle the laundry, fix the house and not least fix our hair. (No, I actually love blokes, especially my very fussy gourmand husband who when he is starving and I have been elsewhere all day I swear he loves the easy tomato sauce pasta I serve topped up with freshly torn basil, freshly chopped red hot chilli (from our garden of course) and freshly grated parmesan - (never that pre grated plastic junk ) - and of course a glass of our own wine. ) But I will agree with you on that point - I bet he does know the sauce is not mine - but sometimes a clean shirt the next day is a greater priority.

    And while you are into verbology - you say takeout, we say takeaway ... no self respecting Italian woman would ever call herself Momma or Mamma - it is always Mama. That is rule that is never broken

    Salute !

    Apr 19, 2012 at 8:56 PM

  • Snooth User: Zawacki
    479089 15

    Again I must agree with you ~ nothing beats your own tomatoes ;) but alas most often some respectful canned tomatoes must suffice as many of us are either not able nor skilled enough to grow and preserve our own. Of course in my old neighborhood all of my Italian friends fathers typically grew their own along with most if not all the herbs they like to put in their "gravy". On the occasions that my buddies and I were invited for a meal it was often the father that made the sauce, not always the mother. Either way it was never, ever something from a store. Never.

    That said, I'm aware that times have changed. Despite the new demands I believe the time spent making your own meals as close to natural as possible is worth the investment. You disagree? It's okay by me. Again, to each his own. If you like to use jarred sauce on occasion, that's certainly your prerogative. Not me, but I suppose if I were to consider going that route I'd look for a "better" jarred sauce. What makes it better? Well again that's subjective to personal taste and therefore again, to each his/her own.

    Getting back to my whole point in posting a comment, "Easy At Home Italian" doesn't have to come from a jar. Therefore, my opinion is that a recipe for "Easy At Home Italian" should include a simple basic sauce as it's foundation. Too often these days quality is sacrificed for the sake of convenience and it is not helping our younger generations encouraging them to think along those lines. It is worth noting to them that there is nothing hard about making your own sauce. With a hectic schedule you can always make some on a less busy day and freeze it for something quick to serve when you are frazzled at the days end.

    As far as Mario's recipe in particular, it is merely a suggestion for a basic sauce that allows anyone to make something that far exceeds jarred sauce. Yes, despite using canned tomatoes seeing as there are quite a few top quality products out there, I would have no problem suggesting their substitution for home grown to an aspiring cook. Now personally I know I was spoiled growing up as I do feel that it makes a huge difference in taste. Having been lucky enough to been exposed to the blessing of fresh home made pasta, home grown herbs and the wonderful varieties of Italian tomatoes grown from a garden etc was certainly ideal. BUT that is not necessary to make a decent, much more healthy, simple Italian meal than this "recipe" suggests. I'm sorry if you think that makes me "precious" but that is simply the way I was raised.

    As far as my priding myself on cooking with exclusion to the other chores that a normal household entails, despite it being irrelevant to the core of my comment on the recipe, I will respond. You are generalizing your knowledge of "blokes". Personally, my wife and I share the bulk of whatever other chores, laundry and the like, but again, it is irrelevant to the comment I made on this "recipe" which I will continue to stand by.

    If anyone wants an "Easy At Home Italian" meal, they are better served starting with their own sauce, from canned tomatoes, fresh tomatoes, etc and will always get a superior result over this "recipe". A good foundation is a key to success.

    I will confess I had to look up "verbology" as I had no idea what you meant. Apparently the urban dictionary defines it as: 1.verbology , When one is describing something using words not 'typically' used when in a conversation. Basically, 'verbology' is a choice of words that might be made up (or on Urban Dictionary).

    With that said, I still have no idea what you are referring to. "Take away" is apparently a British or Australian version of the original American phrase of "Take out". No verbology used there.

    Just to avoid a debate on that phrase, I cite the following:
    Word Origin & History
    takeout ~ in ref. to food prepared at a restaurant but not eaten there, 1941, from take (v.) + out. British equivalent take-away is recorded from 1964 (adj.), 1970 (n.).
    Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper.

    I used take out in my response to clarify that we were on the same page with your reference to take away. No, "verbology" used as far as I can tell. As far as "Momma", that was spelled in that manner because I'm not of Italian descent. It is just how it can be spelled. However, it is my understanding that Mama is pronounced the same way with the same meaning. But your point is taken.

    None of this has anything to do with (or add to) my original comment. I will not comment further and will simply say, "You win". Jarred sauce in a pinch is the way to go for people that don't want to bother to make a better, simple sauce.

    PS, send me some of your homemade sauce. I would be thrilled to death :)
    Be well.

    Apr 20, 2012 at 2:22 PM

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