Mouth-Watering Mom's Meal
DINNERTIME holds some of my favorite childhood memories. With an Italian family, dinner was—and is—a big event. There's a lot of passing, laughing, sharing and talking…and much more food than can be consumed in one sitting!
Although my mom, Sarah Maranto, owned two quilt and needlework shops when my brother, Vincent, sister, Mary, and I were kids, we never had fast food for dinner. Dad would get home first and start the meal, then Mom would finish it when she arrived. On weekends, with more time to devote to cooking, she made wonderful meals.
After every meal, my dad still raves about Mom's cooking. He often says, "You can't get that in a restaurant!"
Her Rice Balls with Meat Sauce was always my favorite. My parents emigrated from Sicily, so we took trips to Italy as a family. I had to have rice balls while we were there. When my mom made them at home, we knew we were in for a real treat.
Mom's colorful Italian Zucchini Boats make a flavorful side dish. The aroma of the cheese, tomato and garlic cooking in the kitchen is enough to make your tummy growl.
She always had plenty of fresh zucchini, tomatoes and other vegetables available, thanks to my dad. A retired horticulturist, he grew produce and herbs in the backyard…and still gives me pots of parsley and basil.
Basil stars in Mom's Tomato Mozzarella Salad. We sometimes like to add capers to this simple melt-in-your-mouth side dish.
And there isn't a better way to end a big Italian meal than with refreshing Lemon Ice. It's cool and light…and a welcome snack on hot summer days.