One of the most important things to me about food is sharing with and making new friends. I recently had the opportunity to befriend someone who taught me how to make authentic Italian tomato sauce and meatballs over pasta. She learned to cook by hanging out in the kitchen with her Sicilian grandmother since she was a little girl. One of the things that fascinated me was that this is purely intuitive cooking. It appears to take a whole family to cook a meal. Everyone contributes as they pass through the kitchen: it needs a little more salt, more wine, it’s too thick – let’s add some pasta water, etc. etc. etc. I wonder how anyone in an Italian family has ever written a cookbook, you could never keep track of who put what in the sauce and how much. It is always good, but never exactly the same. The only exception is if Grandma rules the kitchen and promises to bludgeon you with a wooden spoon if you get to close to the stove.

The same thing happened when I went to Baja Mexico. I sat down with a friend of the family in La Paz and was taught to make authentic Mole’ from scratch. It was one of the most intense recipes I have ever made and it was delicious! I spoke more Spanish than she did English but we were able to communicate well enough and when I got home I had to decipher the recipe that I had written both in English and Spanish.

The utmost enjoyable part of any journey is sitting down at the table, breaking bread, pouring wine, eating fine food and enjoying the company.

Here’s my version of an intuitive recipe for authentic Italian Tomato Sauce and Meatballs over Pasta.

I’m giving amounts and measurements for the sake of convenience. Feel free to use more or less of anything as you see fit. That’s the beauty of intuitive cooking, cook how you want it to be. And remember, the fresher the ingredients, the better its going to taste!

Authentic Italian Tomato Sauce

Makes about a quart.


Battuto (Italian version of mirepoix)
(Separately mince each of the following ingredients in a food processor and use the amount indicated or to your taste):

2 TBS Onion
1 TBS Carrots (more if you want it sweeter- no sugar needed here!)
1 TBS Celery
1/2 TBS Garlic

Then add:
1 TBS Tomato paste (Optional)
1 TBS Fresh Basil (Chopped fine)
1/2 TBS Italian Parsley (chopped fine)
2 TBS Extra Virgin Olive Oil


Sauté the battuto over medium heat in olive oil till onions and garlic become translucent. Don’t let the garlic burn. Now it is referred to as a soffritto.


1 28oz. can Whole Peeled San Marzano tomatoes (regular ones if you can’t find these)
1/4 Cup Red Wine

If you like your tomatoes more chunky (like I do) just crush them in your hand as you add them to the pot and then mash them a bit with a potato masher. If you want your sauce to come out more smooth, run them through a food mill being sure to scrape off all the bits and pieces from the bottom of the mill.
Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for at least 2 hours. If sauce becomes too think, thin with some hot pasta water.

About 5 to10 minutes before serving, add:

1 TBS Fresh Basil (Chopped fine)
to taste Sea Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper

While the sauce is simmering, about 11 or 12 minutes before it is done, start the pasta. You can use virtually any type of paste, but I’d stick with spaghetti, linguini or fettuccini. Cook pasta in a large pot with lots of boiling water and a few pinches of salt. No oil is needed if the pasta has room to swim around. It won’t stick together that way. You’ll know when it is al dente (“to the tooth” as the say) when you remove a strand of paste, bite it and look at the center. There should be a very small portion in the exact middle that is still white and it will be slightly crunchy. This is just right because after you serve it with the sauce and meat balls it will continue to cook and be perfect when you eat it.

Authentic Italian Meatballs

Makes about12 – 15 golf ball size


1 Lb. Organic, natural grain and grass fed ground beef (I use Laura’s Lean Beef)
1 or 2 LG Eggs
2 TBS Fresh Italian Parsley (chopped)
3 TBS Parmesan
2 TBS Italian Seasoned Bread Crumbs
4 Cloves Garlic (minced)
1 teas. Oregano (dried)
Milk or Ricotta
to taste Sea Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper
2 TBS Olive Oil


Mix above ingredients in a bowl, then hand form into meatballs. Brown in a cast iron skillet with the olive oil. Flip them with a fork to brown the other side. Transfer to sauce as you start the pasta. Continue to simmer in sauce as the pasta is cooking.

Serve topped with fresh ground pepper and Parmesan cheese, garlic bread, a salad and nice red Italian wine such as Chianti.

This next recipe is for Beef Braciole. I tried my hand again at intuitive cooking and it came out great! No need for measuring out amounts, just put in how much of whatever you are using to your taste.

Beef Braciole

Serves: 4


1 1/2 LBS Flank Steak, Round Steak or Beef Tenderloin
Parmesan (Grated)
Garlic (Minced) (or Garlic Powder)
Flat Italian Parsley (Chopped)
Basil (Chopped)
To taste: Salt and fresh ground Pepper

Hard Boiled Eggs (Chopped)
Italian Seasoned Bread Crumbs
Genoa Salami


Pound out beef to about 1/8” thick 8” squares. Add ingredients on top of beef squares. Tightly roll up and truss with cotton Butcher’s twine. Sear until golden brown on all sides then place in simmering tomato sauce for 2 – 3 hours.

As Julia would say: “Bon Appetite”!


Chef Trusan