By: Deanna Linder
Growing up in Los Angeles, I was blessed to be exposed to a vast variety of ethnic foods, from Vietnamese, Persian, Peruvian, Korean, etc. I love tasting different flavors, ingredients and textures, and in general, just the feeling of sitting in a very authentic restaurant, that almost makes you feel as if you have actually travelled across the world (my second favorite hobby).
To this day, now living in Israel, I still try to find and eat at ethnic restaurants like The Thai House and Salaam Bombay. But for some reason, when it comes to cooking at home, the style I prefer is almost always Italian. Italian cooking is characterized by fresh, available, local ingredients, not altered too much, seasoned just right, and unpretentious as can be. Take a perfectly ripe tomato, crisp basil, good quality olive oil and some fresh mozzarella, and you have the tastiest, simplest salad ever. Viva Italia!
I’m a huge Mario Batali fan. In his book, Molto Italiano, Batali offers really easy to follow, classic Italian recipes. One that I just keep on making over and over again is the Ragu Bolognese. Every Italian food lover should have a good Ragu in their recipe collection, and you will need to look no further after making this one.
Ragu Bolognese (Adapted from Mario Batali’s Molto Italiano)
Ingredients for 6-8 servings:
¼ cup olive oil
1 cup pancetta or bacon, cut into small cubes
2 medium onions, finely chopped
4 ribs celery, finely chopped
3 carrots, finely chopped
5 garlic cloves, sliced
2 pounds (1 kilo) ground beef/veal
1 cup tomato paste
1 cup whole milk
1 cup dry white wine
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
Salt and fresh ground pepper
- Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat and add the pancetta. Stir occasionally for about 3 minutes, until the pancetta is crisp. Add the onions, celery, carrots and garlic and cook for another 5 minutes, until the vegetables are translucent, but not browned.
- Add the ground beef, increase the heat to high and brown the meat, stirring frequently.
- Add the tomato paste, milk, wine, thyme and bring just to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 1 to 1½ hours.
- Season with salt and pepper, remove from heat and allow to cool a bit before serving.
Serve with pasta, rice or mashed potatoes.