Mediocrity and minimum. Those two words seem tied together in a way. What elevates so-so to great is going above and beyond. My parents taught me the value of doing the best that can be done in any situation and not simply the barest minimum. It is something that shines through especially in food and cooking. A perfect example is the story behind Baked Cavatini.
The story starts over 30 years ago. It was shortly after I was married and we had just moved from a terrible apartment after only six months in that awful place. Anyway, down the street from our new home was a national pizza chain restaurant we would frequent often. It was convenient and both of us loved pizza. Our favorite at the time was double cheese and double pepperoni.
One night I was in the mood for something different. I ordered a pasta dish because the menu said it was filled with pepperoni and covered in cheese. It was so good. It became something I ordered regularly. Then as time went on and things went downhill. I ordered it one evening and about a third of the way through I noticed pepperoni was missing. So I brought it to the attention of the waitress and she took the pasta back to the kitchen.
The cook or manager brought back the dish. She brought it back with attitude too. She said, and very proudly I might add, “I know there is pepperoni in it because I put the required two pieces in it”. Then she proceeded to stand over me and watch while I fished around and found those two pieces just to prove her point. So much for it being “filled” with pepperoni. It turned into a mediocre dish because only the bare minimum was put into it.
From then on that meal became our meaning or reference to minimum. Just the other day we left somewhere disappointed (not food related) and when we got in the car my husband said “but it had two pieces of pepperoni” and I busted out laughing.
About my baked cavatini: It is a mixture of three kinds of short pasta, tomato meat sauce, and pepperoni. It’s put into a casserole dish and covered with mozzarella, parmesan, and more pepperoni. Then it is baked until bubbly and the cheese has melted. The good thing about making this at home is you can put as much or as little pepperoni in it to your liking. I used a whole six ounce package.
What wine to pair with a baked cavatini? I paired it with Gallo Family Vineyards Chardonnay and Merlot. I’ve always felt Chardonnay is a bold enough white wine to stand up to hearty pasta. It definitely pairs nicely with the cheeses. I consider Merlot a flexible red wine and pairs with a wide range of food especially rich tomato sauces.
Memories are made at meals. Some of those memories have special meaning. That meaning could be a treasured family moment, something funny, or relate to a completely separate thing. Sunday Supper is proud to partner with Gallo Family Vineyards to share the stories behind recipes along with wine pairings for them. Scroll down to see what my fellow Sunday Supper tastemakers have made for the occasion. Also look at Gallo’s Meals with Meaning blog post to see their story.
More on Gallo Family Vineyards: Follow them on social media to keep up the latest on the company, vineyards, and their wines. Here are quick links to GFV’s profiles: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube. Their website has lots of information on Gallo Family Vineyards wines plus wine pairing notes and a handy store locator.
- 12 ounces uncooked short pasta (I used rigate, casarecce, and shells)
- ½ pound ground beef
- 5 cups marinara sauce
- 6 ounces sliced pepperoni, divided
- 12 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese
- 3 ounces grated parmesan cheese
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly coat the inside of a 3 quart casserole dish with olive oil (or other cooking oil).
- Cook pasta according to package instructions. Drain and return to the pot or place in a large bowl.
- While the pasta is cooking, brown ground beef in a medium saucepan. Break it up with a spoon or spatula while browning to crumble it. Drain grease from beef and return to saucepan.
- Add marinara sauce to the beef and stir to combine. Bring to a simmer over medium heat.
- Pour meat sauce over cooked pasta. Add most of the pepperoni, reserving some slices for the top. Stir until combined. Transfer mixture to prepared casserole dish and spread evenly in the dish.
- Sprinkle mozzarella cheese evenly over pasta mixture. Sprinkle parmesan over mozzarella. Place remaining slices of pepperoni on top.
- Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until it begins to bubble and the cheese has melted and is lightly brown on the edges.
What meal has a special meaning to you? Take a look at these by Sunday Supper contributors and join me in reading the story behind each one along with Gallo Family Vineyards wine pairings:
- Baked Cavatini by Magnolia Days
- Italian Noodle Casserole by Cupcakes & Kale Chips
- German Beef Rouladen by Kudos Kitchen by Renee
- Gnocchi with Butternut Squash and Spinach by Ruffles & Truffles
- Lasagna Rolls by Casa de Crews
- Lemon Risotto by The Messy Baker
- New Orleans Red Beans and Rice Soup by The Weekend Gourmet
- Pan Seared Ribeye with Homemade Compound Butter by Big Bear’s Wife
- Portuguese Steak & Eggs – bife com ovo a cavalo by Family Foodie
- Roasted Garlic Cheese Fondue by The Girl In The Little Red Kitchen
- Reuben Mac and Cheese by Bobbi’s Kozy Kitchen
- Spicy Pesto Shrimp Primavera by Flavor Mosaic
- Spinach Artichoke Pizza by Life Tastes Good
- Spinach Rice Casserole by Shockingly Delicious
- White Bean Chili with Cheddar Biscuits by Feed Me, Seymour
- Boston Cream Pie by Serena Bakes Simply From Scratch
- Chocolate Pavlova by That Skinny Chick Can Bake
- Grandma’s Lemon Bars by Alida’s Kitchen
- Mom’s Apple Crisp by Peanut Butter and Peppers
- Vanilla Cupcakes with Lemon Curd Filling and Lemon Buttercream by The Redhead Baker
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Disclosure: Compensation was provided by Gallo Family Vineyards via Sunday Supper, LLC. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author, and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Gallo Family Vineyards.