Sunday Dinner.

I feel like Tevye from Fiddler on the Roof singing Tradition – except I’m Irish eating Italian. I guess it’s the ultimate in cross-cultural recognition.

As a kid growing up, we’d have Sunday Dinner now and again – usually a roast or something that could be stretched into several meals in the coming week. My mother was a professional food-stretcher.

Victor’s family, on the other hand, did the whole Italian pasta, meatballs, and lord knows what else eat for hours starting early in the afternoon…

Over the years, I’ve come to embrace that.

Granted, we no longer start early in the afternoon and eat all day, but a homemade pasta with a homemade sauce and homemade meatballs with a homemade loaf of bread sure makes for a great dinner!


Victor’s Pasta Sauce

  • 2 – 28oz cans of crushed tomatoes
  • 1 – Sm can tomato paste
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic (or to taste if you like more) chopped fine
  • Olive oil
  • Dried Italian seasonings
  • Hot red pepper flakes (a tsp or more or less to taste)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Red wine (always cook with a decent wine, never “cooking” wine) about a cup or cup and a half
  • Meat – such as Italian sausage or some nice beef or pork ribs or pork chops

Ok…I ALWAYS make my sauce with meat, so start with a deep, heavy pot and add about 3-4 TBS of olive oil. On high heat, once the oil is hot, start frying the sausage or pork, Let the meat get good and caramelized although you don’t have to cook it all the way through because you’ll add it back to the sauce to finish. Once the meat is browned take it out of the pot, put it on a plate and set aside.

Lower the heat to medium and sauté the tomato paste for a couple of minutes until it begins to “melt”. Add the chopped garlic and sauté with the tomato paste for just a minute (no longer or it will burn). Then add about a cup of the red wine and deglaze the pan with it, scrapping up all the good bits that stuck to the bottom when cooking the meat.

When the wine reduces by about ½ start adding the canned tomatoes.  Add one can of hot water for every can of tomatoes you use.

Now start adding the dried Italian seasonings.  I eyeball it but I would guess a good 2 TBS is fine.  Add about another ½ cup of red wine, with red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Stir everything into the sauce. It will be very thin at this point.

Add back the cooked meat. Now this is important….at the bottom of the plate you let the meat rest on will be some of the oil and juices that seeped out. Pour that back into the pot. It has a lot of flavor in it.

Bring the sauce back to a boil then turn the heat down low and let it simmer for at least 1 and a half hours, stirring every 15 to 20 minutes to keep it from burning. It should reduce by about a third or a little less and get thicker. The meat will absorb the sauce and get very tender.

When I make meatballs, I don’t fry them, I bake them on a sheet pan. When I do, I add them to the simmering sauce when they’re done so they also absorb the flavor.

I usually make the sauce early in the day and after it’s done, just let it sit on the stove until dinner then I re-heat it. This should make enough sauce for a couple of dinners or good sized lasagna.


Fresh Pasta

  • 1 cup tipo ’00’ flour
  • 1/3 cup semolina flour
  • 2 eggs
  • pinch salt
  • 1 tbsp water – maybe

Mix flour, salt, and eggs until fully combined. Knead on a floured board until smooth, adding a drop or two of additional water, if needed.

Let the dough rest for 30 minutes, and then roll out using pasta machine. You can roll this with a rolling pin, but a pasta roller is so much easier!


Lightly dust and then fold the pasta strips.

And then cut to desired width.

Unfold and place on a floured sheet pan.

Cook in lightly boiling salted water for about 3 minutes. Then add to sauce and cook an additional 2 minutes.


Aleppo Tomato Bread

  • 1/3 cup warm water
  • 1 pgk dry yeast
  • 2 tbsp aleppo pepper
  • 1 cup tomato juice and pulp from 3 or so fresh tomatoes
  • 4 cups flour
  • 3 tbsp softened butter
  • 1 tsp salt

Place yeast and warm water in mixing bowl. Let proof about 5 minutes.

Add juice, salt, 3 cups flour, and aleppo pepper. With dough hook, mix well, adding softened butter a bit at a time to make a soft but not too sticky dough. Mix for about 10 minutes.

Turn dough out to a floured surface and knead briefly.

Roll into a ball and place in an oiled bowl. Cover and allow to rise until doubled.

Punch down and form into a round or oblong loaf. Place on a well-floured or corn meal-covered bread peel – if using a baking stone – or onto a floured or corn meal-covered sheet pan and let rise again, until doubled. Make a slit across the top about a half-inch deep.

Place into a 350°F oven and bake about 45-55 minutes.

We were reasonably good – we didn’t eat nearly as much as we wanted to – but every bite was perfection.

Viva la Sunday Dinner!