Marrying into an Italian family, you learn a lot about tradition, family and dreams. Often there is that patriarch of the family; that one person that essentially ‘started it all’. When the good folks from Ragu® reached out to me they taught me their patriarch, Assunta Cantisano. Assunta made the voyage from Italy to America with a little something extra up her sleeve, her family’s recipe for tomato sauce– a secret and sublime combination of vine-ripened tomatoes, fresh basil, fennel, garlic and ground pepper, meticulously writing down every detail and hiding it for safe passage. She must have known she was onto something when the neighbor’s raved about it. Then the neighbor’s neighbors. Word spread, and when people in Iowa started grabbing it off the shelves, well, the legend was off and running.
It wasn’t easy, Assunta grew up in a man’s world during our nation’s toughest time– the Great Depression. And in a time when people expected less, she gave them more. When people were forced to put their hopes, dreams and aspirations on the back burner, Assunta placed hers decidedly on the front burner. Her recipe literally became the recipe for her success…Thus, Ragú pasta sauce was born! Hundreds of pasta sauces have graced the shelves over the past 80 years, but only one has become America’s number one!
This story touched my heart as it reminded me of the stories I would hear about Mr. Fantabulous’ family. Pasta and sauce is a tradition in his family and now in ours. It’s not so much about the meal but about the times you spend together; creating memories that just so happened to be encased in amazing foods.
So when the folks from Ragu asked me to be a Brand Ambassador for them I was thrilled as it’s a company and product built on family and tradition; just like the one I married in to. Ragu is readily available in most grocery stores which makes it super convenient for those nights when you want a quick, but delicious meal. On your way home from work just pop into the market, peruse the pasta sauce aisle and pick out your favorite Ragu flavor along with a box of pasta.
For me I wanted to keep my recipe super simple as I wanted the rich and robust flavors of the Ragu sauce to shine through. I heated up a jar of the Ragu Hearty Traditional sauce first. It’s a delicious and extra flavorful blend of tomatoes, herbs and seasonings. Seriously, it’s made with more than 11 tomatoes and so robust in flavor! Next I grabbed some of my cooked Italian Chicken Mozzarella Stuffed Meatballs, some crusty ciabiatta bread and mozzarella cheese. These Ragu Meatball Panini Dippers were AMAZING!
As the sauce was heating up I could smell the herbs and spices. It was warm and comforting, just like Sunday dinners with the family. Since I didn’t have to fuss about making sauce from scratch as Assunta took care of that for me, this dish was done in under 10 minutes. I always keep a big bag of meatballs made up in the freezer for those times when I just am short on time but am craving comfort foods. This dish is a DEFINITE winner in my book thanks to Ragu! These meatball panini dippers are perfect for sharing, football gatherings or even a cool Fall picnic. These dippers will be a tradition for every Football game from now on. They are portable, delicious and the fact that you get to dip them in the flavorful Ragu sauce… SCORE!!!
Now go grab some Ragu sauce and start your own family tradition!
So now one more thing… the Giveaway!!!
There is a sweeps contest running on Food.com. The contest is titled Ready. Set. Cook! and it challenges home cooks to create new and unique recipes featuring Ragu sauce plus a set list of other ingredients. You HAVE to check it out!!!Print
- Place the sauce in pan over medium-low heat just until it’s warmed, about 8-10 minutes.
- While the sauce is simmering preheat the broiler with the rack on top third of the oven.
- Slice the buns in half lengthways and slather each sliced half with 1 1/2 Tbl of butter.
- Place the buns, buttered side up on a rimmed baking tray and broil for 2-5 minutes or until the edges are toasted and the butter is melted.
- Remove the buns from the oven and spread 1-2 Tbl of the warmed Ragu Hearty Traditional pasta sauce over the bottom half of the sliced bun.
- Next place 3-4 meatballs on top of the sauce.
- Evenly divide 1/2 cup of cheese between the top half of the bun and over top of the meatballs.
- Pop the pan back under the broiler for 2 minutes or until the cheese is melted.
- Remove the pan from the oven.
- Place the tops of each bun over top of the meatballs and gently press down, almost smashing the meatballs.
- To serve cut the ciabatta buns on a diagonal and plate with a dipping container full of warmed Ragu Hearty Traditional pasta sauce .