Growing up, did you spend your summers with your Italian grandmother, eating cherries off the vine from her small garden and snacking on homemade bread dipped in olive oil?
No? Me neither. In fact, in our very small family I barely had a chance to get to know my grandparents. I feel like I kind of missed out on all of the old-world traditions that get passed down from that generation, especially when it comes to foods.
I don’t want this to get confusing with the downline, but my father-in-law married an Italian woman who grew up with her mother in Italy. While I didn’t get to spend time with my own grandparents like that, I’m now married into a family who has a little old grandmother who spent her summers growing tomatoes and making homemade bread.
But.. since I’m not her kin she doesn’t share with me her secret family recipes. Womp.
So I get to taste the amazing creations that they cook and I have so. much. fun. creating our own versions of Italian, but if I want the bona fide Old World style experience, I have to pay for it.
If you’re not familiar with the Ragu story, it all began in 1914, when Assunta Cantisano came to America from Naples, Italy, with little more than a delicious family recipe to her name. Assunta stayed true to her upbringing and literally put down roots—planting her own backyard garden that would ultimately put her Italian family’s beloved sauce recipe on the map.
By the ‘50s and ‘60s, Ragú had become a staple in many American kitchens. Today, Assunta’s commitment to quality in every jar of Ragu is a time-honored tradition. For the past 35 years, Ragu has been made with 100% vine-ripened, California tomatoes grown and picked from family farms and then carefully cooked to perfection.
I love cooking with fresh ingredients, with greens from the garden and always lots of garlic and onion. This recipe uses Swiss Chard (delicious. nutritious. colorful!) and fresh garlic and onions mixed into creamy ricotta cheese. I wanted to keep this dish light and fun so I sautéed jumbo shrimp in butter and broiled a little Mozzarella on top.
Do you have any cooking traditions that are passed down in your family? Leave a message and share them with me!