How to cook like an Italian

An Italian “Cena”

Fall is coming which means the long days of cooking are here. This weekend, we decided to have an Italian supper at our house. This meant that the meal started at 4pm on Sunday. I made a traditional Tomato Sauce, but instead of serving just that, I used it in the Lasagna I made. Boy, do I remember waking up in my house as a child to the smells of my mom frying garlic and onions in EVOO. She would make a huge pot of sauce in the morning and let it cook on the stove all day. We’d go in the kitchen and dunk huge hunks of bread in there throughout the day and if we were lucky, we could fish out a meatball and have it over bread with sauce for lunch. She would make enough for supper that night but freeze tons of it and call it “liquid gold”.

This past Sunday, we started the meal by serving Fried Artichokes and Caponata:


I took small artichokes and cut off both the top and the bottom. I peeled back as many layers of the chokes as needed until I got to the soft core. Being that they were small artichokes, the inside did not contain the prickly needles. I then quartered the hearts and sauteed them in a little EVOO with salt and a squeeze of lemon.

For the Caponata, I was out of pignolis so I used raw almonds and I omitted the raisins because I didn’t have any. The beauty of Caponata is that you can make it however you like it-some like it sweeter and some like it more sour. Some like raisins and some think they don’t belong. Green olives? Black olives? It’s up to you.

Next, we made Italian Meatloaf Roll. An alternative to this recipe would be to boil a few eggs to a hard boil point, peel them and line them up in the middle and mold the meat around the egg to form a log. Roll or log, either way, this meatloaf is like no other!

No Italian meal is complete without Stuffed Peppers.


This time I made a vegetarian version because we were having the meatloaf and the lasagna with meat sauce. I put the peppers out on the appetizer table but we ate them with the main course as well.

No Italian meal is complete without wine. We had lots of great reds and roses flowing all day long. You can find great wine deals from our friends at My Wines Direct -they have put some exclusive collections together for our website which is molto bene.

We gathered about 10 of our friends together, raised a glass and toasted, “A chi ci vuole bene” which means “to those who love us.”

7 Responses to “An Italian “Cena””

  1. Shanna says:


    I always loved making fresh artichokes with my grandmother, but they were always the big ones that you got when the holidays just started, but i have never made small ones. I was very curious to know exzactly how you cooked your artichokes. Were they fresh from the market,in a can?? Did you have to steam them if they were fresh? I would love to try your recipe. Thanks,

    Shanna Graffeo
    Brooklyn, NY

  2. Cheryl Gabel says:

    Hi Shanna,
    Italians pretty much are using fresh! Your answer to fresh or canned?….is FRESH artichokes. You always want to use fresh with any dish if fresh is available to you. Fresh is the best! She said she removed layers till getting to the heart of the the artichoke, then quartered, fried in evoo with lemon and salt.Sounds awesome too!

  3. Cheryl Gabel says:

    Shanna, here is a good recipe i use.
    Artichokes Italian-Style:
    2 tbspns olive oil
    4 cups Artichoke hearts – approximately
    3 Garlic cloves, minced
    3 tbspns fresh lemon juice
    2 tbspns grated parm cheese
    In medium skillet, heat over high heat. Add artichokes and cook 2 minutes to heat through. Reduce heat to low. Stir in garlic and lemon jc. Cook 5 minutes longer. Remove from heat and add the parmagiano cheese. Stir gently to mix. Transfer to an oiled broiling pan. Finish off under preheated broiler to brown at edges for 2 minutes.

  4. Ellinor Johansson says:

    I just watched a show from rachel when she was cooking swedish meetballs. I didn’t believe my eyes! THATS NOT SWEDISH MEETBALLS!! RAWWWW MEET IN A SAUSE?? OH MY GOD!!! it lookt discusting! And what she put on the top at the end? I have lived in sweden for 28 years and still do, and i have never seen anyone put that on the top!!

  5. Michele Williams says:

    Wow, Your House sounds like my Grandma’s growing that she’s gone I make her recipe for Pasta Sauce and Meatballs and I always put a meatball and some sauce in a small bowl and let my husband sample it with some great Italian bread..He LOVES it and it’s so great to watch him enjoy it!!

  6. danyele4 says:

    OMG! My grandmother and mother’s house. The Sundary morning giant pots of sauce with meatballs. If you were patient enough you get to sneak a bowl of sause with a meatball. We too dipped bread into the sauce. That was one of the clearest memories of my grandmother.

  7. Marie says:

    We ALWAYS had to put the sauce on a piece of bread and eat a sauce sandwich or 2 before dinner!! You just couldn’t POSSIBLY wait to eat until dinner with that GREAT sauce smell going through the house all day!! Actually I STILL do that NOW and so do my teenage boys!! Kinda funny!

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