Every Sunday as a child growing up, it was a family tradition to have a Sunday meal, all around the table, of homemade sauce and meatballs. My mom would start every Sunday morning with some Italian music (that she sang along to TERRIBLY), her coffee and several phone calls to friends and loved ones to touch base. By lunchtime, our kitchen smelled like pure bliss and I was sneaking spoonfuls of sauce from the stovetop when she left the room (still, sorry not sorry). Once dinner rolled around there was never enough meatballs or shredded parmesan cheese on the table.
The tradition of Sunday sauce is truly a staple in my mom's Italian family. My maternal grandparents (aka N&P, my best friends) grew up around the corner from each other and both of their families had Sunday dinners of sauce, meatballs, all the cheese and all the family time.
Traveling to my home away from home of Morgantown, West Virginia and getting to have one, sometimes two Sunday dinners was the icing on the cake of my weekends in Morgantown (the cake was Saturdays in the fall at WVU football games with my grandfather).
As an adult, I've often found myself craving some sort of Sunday sauce tradition on Sundays at my home. While it's often just myself at home on Sundays, or sometimes my LTB (longterm boyfriend of ten+ years), I feel this strong craving for the Sundays of my youth and of my grandparents and great-grandparents only now with some red wine of my own to indulge in.
Finally, after satiating my cravings for Sunday carbs, good music and wine with a quick sticky garlic sauce a la Frank Prisinzano, I set off to do what my grandparents and great-grandparents have always done: shoot from the hip, know your ingredients and cook from the heart.
Damn, did it feel good to try out my new one-pot Sunday sauce recently and discover just how good it tasted. Pour yourself a good healthy glass of Montepulciano and try it for yourself (fair warning: I did not measure anything exactly, everything is to taste).
- One small container of heavy whipping cream
- One small container of tomato paste
- Three links of Italian chicken sausage (or your Italian sausage alternative of choice)
- Chopped roasted rep peppers (think about 1 c minimum, more depending on taste/spice)
- Garlic (at least 4 gloves, more or less depending on your garlic desires--more is more for me)
- Chili flakes
- Shredded Parmesan cheese
- Pasta of your choice
- (Kosher) salt & pep
First up, take your largest pan in the kitchen and put about 2-3 teaspoons of your most delicious olive oil in the pan and heat on medium high. I use this yummy Le Creuset braiser. Once the OO is heated, cook your sausage, chopping it up with the bottom of a flat wooden spoon, remove the sausage from the pan and cover to keep warm.
Lower the heat to medium, add your diced garlic and let it perfume up and cook on its own just slightly. After about a minute or so add your chopped roasted red peppers, tomato paste, and heavy whipping cream; again stirring with the wooden spoon. Use the spoon to break up the tomato paste into the pan, then bring the heat up to between medium and medium-high.
Next, add in the chopped herbs and a few shakes of chili flakes (again to taste, these get spicier as they cook). At this time, go ahead and fill your pasta pot with heavily salted water (Kosher salt is my go-to). Continue to stir your pasta sauce and it should thicken naturally. After about 5-7 minutes, add a few handfuls of parm (or 2-3 shakes if you're using store-bought shaker cheese. . . no shame, I do it sometimes). The parm will help the sauce to thicken as it cooks. No shame: this is where I start to sample the sauce. Sampling helps me to determine what it needs, and I essentially ad-lib from here.
When the water has boiled, you've dropped your pasta and it's 5 minutes or so from being done, turn the sauce to medium-high and add the sausage. Pay attention here to keep stirring so the sauce does not burn or stick to the bottom. Two minutes on medium-high then drop that heat to medium-low and wait for the noodles to cook.
Pro tip: instead of draining the noodles, turn the heat off and transfer the noodles to the sauce, allowing a little bit of salted pasta water to get into the sauce. Toss in some more parm (your choice on how much/little) and fold the noodles into the sauce. Keep it on medium-low as to take out your plates (I will heat my plates for 10-12 seconds in microwave right here) then turn the heat off when you serve.