I am a lucky guy. For many reasons. One of them is that I always had the chance to come back home for lunch during my middle school years. I’m lucky because my mum would wake up super-early everyday, do all the prepping necessary before going to work (she worked as a teacher), then rushing back, putting a pot of water on and in no time put together an incredible meal for me, arriving from school. Hungry, very hungry.

I realise it now, how lucky I’ve been. But back then, saying that I wasn’t very appreciative is an understatement. My mom, and the pasta, were just there. My meal appearing punctual on my dish without me thinking too much about the care and effort laying behind the plate. Sometimes, I’d even use the time between one huge mouthful and the other (let’s say portion control wasn’t a thing back then) to argue with her. Teenagers, they say.

Now that I think about it, it’s incredible the variety and quality of lunches my working mom always managed to pull off: pesto, bolognese, vegetarian, beans, lentils, 4 formaggi and so on..all the classics and more!

The recipe

Of all these dishes, the one I remember more fondly, is Penne alla Genovese or, I should say, Teenage Penne.

As it is often the case with Italian sauces, it takes a few hours to cook the sauce. My mom used to do this in the morning, or even the night before, and then just add the pasta before I arrived demanding my lunch on the table!

In a large pot add oil, onions, carrots, celery (all diced) and ground beef and cook over medium heat. Season and then add red wine to deglaze. At this point add the stock enough to cover the ingredients and let cook with a lid for about 2 hours.

Remove the lid and let the sauce boil for about 45 minutes in order to reduce and change consistency.

Season to taste. Add our Penne with Garlic, and cover with generous amount of Parmigiano.

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