October is National Italian Heritage Month

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Formerly known as National Italian American Heritage Month, October is National Italian Heritage Month? Heritage encompasses more than culture and inherited traditions, as well as inventions, objects, and even monuments. A celebration of one's heritage is an opportunity to preserve traditions and honor contributions that have enhanced our lives. Throughout history, Italians have been inventing conveniences we still enjoy in the modern day. From the telephone to the bank, and eye glasses to plastic, the contributions from Italians are everywhere. If you want to read more about Italian inventions, check out this article on Lexiophiles

Perhaps the most notable contribution from Italian heritage is that of food. Food is a universal language that everyone speaks - and it spans across every culture and continent. Indulging in these Italian classics, such as crispy bruschetta, a delicious bowl or pasta al pomodoro, or a delightful biscotti can transform your dining experience from fair to "molto bene". 

In honor of National Italian Heritage Month we're sharing this delicious meatball recipe, available on the Italian Sons and Daughters of America website from Pat of the Gallupoli Family of Ohio. 

Ingredients:

  • Mazola Corn Oil (yes, I’m serious — my parents were poor immigrants and this is what they could afford. I use extra virgin olive oil today, but I am including all their original ingredients).
  • One small onion
  • Two garlic cloves
  • One 6 oz. can of Contadina Tomato Paste (no salt added) or one 16 oz. can of Hunts Diced Tomatoes (no salt added) if you like a more textured sauce
  • One 29 oz. can of Contadina Tomato Puree
  • One slice of soft Italian bread
  • One cup of Italian breadcrumbs
  • One lb. of ground beef
  • One lb. of ground pork
  • One lb. mild Italian Sausage (optional)
  • Two eggs
  • 1/2 cup of grated Romano cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Chopped Italian parsley (a handful!)

Preparation:

To make the sauce — Heat one quarter-inch of oil in a pan on medium heat. Cut up the onion and add it to the warm oil. Toss in two whole garlic cloves with the onion. Add about twelve shakes of pepper. Let the onions and garlic simmer over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the 6 oz. can of Contadina Tomato Paste or the 16 oz. can of Hunts Diced Tomatoes (whichever you prefer). Then add the 29 oz can of Contadina Tomato Puree. *If you want more sauce, add another 8 oz. can. Stir in 1/2 can of water from the 29 oz. can. If the sauce seems too thick, throw in a little more water. Then, add many, many shakes of salt. Put the lid on your pot and turn the heat to medium-high. Let the sauce simmer to a boil. Once boiling, turn the heat back down to medium-low and cook for 3 hours, stirring every 15 minutes or so. The longer you cook the sauce, the thicker it will get. If it ever gets too thick for you, just add some more water.

To prepare the meatballs — Soften the slice of Italian bread with water, squeezing the excess. In a large bowl, mix the ground beef and ground pork with the moistened bread, breadcrumbs, eggs, grated cheese and salt and pepper to taste (I use both liberally). Once everything is blended together, form the meatballs (about 1 and 1/2 to 2-inch diameter) and place them in a baking dish about 1/2 inch apart. Once the baking dish is fully lined with meatballs, cover it with foil. *If you are including sausage, cut links into 1″ pieces and line baking dish with them as well, alternating with the meatballs.

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Bake the covered dish of meatballs (and sausage) for 25 minutes. Then, turn over each meatball and bake them again (covered) for another 25 minutes. Remove the dish from the oven and remove the foil. Add your sauce to the dish (be sure to leave all the drippings in the dish with the meatballs and sausage). Switch the oven to low broil and place the meatballs and sauce back in. Let it simmer in the oven for 10-15 minutes. Sprinkle with chopped Italian parsley. You can serve these on their own, or over pasta!

I have a daughter and granddaughter who are gluten-free. I simply leave out the slice of bread and use 1 and 1/2 cups of gluten-free breadcrumbs. I also add a little water to compensate. They still taste great!                  

You can find Pat's recipe and others here

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  • Whitney Bashaw
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