Prete a Cuire

When the folks at Louise Prete Fine Foods hand-delivered a jar of their Sugo Pomodoro e Basilico (that's tomato and basil sauce to you and me) to my office, I was very interested to try it. I knew nothing of the company, but had been connected with them through my pal Mary Luz Mejia. It was something I wanted to share with friends and tonight I had the opportunity to do just that.

It turns out Louise Prete Fine Foods is named for owner Michael Malleau's nonna, who emigrated to Canada in 1910. In Michael's words,
The time spent with my grandmother in her kitchen watching her lovingly prepare food for her family and guests is where I discovered my love of food and my inspiration for Louise Prete Fine Foods.

My Nonna was thrilled with the idea!
The company's main business is in prepared foods, and they also do some catering. The tomato sauce is a new item in their prepared food line, and uses Nonna's recipe. If you're in southern Ontario, you can find Louise's Sugo at four different retail outlets, as well as order online from Besides the gorgeous packaging, the first thing I noticed was the big pieces of basil and garlic visible in the jar. Unlike so many commercial jarred sauces, this one didn't taste overloaded with sugar.

My dear friend Amy and I had some catching up to do, so I offered to make dinner for her and her boyfriend, using the sauce, and she'd provide the wine, pasta and parm. How's that for a deal? My original idea was to use sweet Italian sausage for the sauce, but all that was available at the grocery store near my office was row after row of hot sausage. I thought the spiciness would affect the flavour of the sauce too much, so ended up grabbing about a pound of ground veal.

We prepped the other ingredients for the sauce - portabello mushroom, zucchini, and orange pepper - while the meat sautéed with some diced onion and we gabbed and enjoyed some wine. You can't cook Italian food without wine, you know. Since we were using a prepared sauce, we only needed to simmer it for about 20 minutes. And because we were quite generous with the meat and veg, we ended up using the entire jar.

But here's the best part. After the three of us had healthy portions of pasta and sauce, there was enough left over to refill the empty jar. Hooray for leftovers! There's something very comforting about making and sharing a hearty, warm and tasty meal with a good friend and the pomodoro sauce was a welcome element in the evening. The sticky toffee pudding and coffee with Coralans irish cream for dessert didn't hurt either.

What's your favourite comfort food to share with friends?


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