Pranzo is a midday meal eaten in Italy at 1 PM. Gathering for pranzo is an important ritual for all Italians. The closest tradition Americans have to pranzo is Sunday dinner; in the U.K. it’s afternoon tea. This meal is a diverse cultural moment in which extended family members gather to be together to eat and drink.
Instating a pranzo-like meal in your life isn’t very hard. Pick a weekend day, maybe Sunday, and make a meal that encourages the entire family to sit down together to eat their favorite foods. Start simple, creating one main dish that’s well liked by everyone and add side dishes that you know will be well received. Try, if you can, to stay seasonal.
If you have diverse cultural roots, make a favorite recipe, like tacos al pastor or an Indian curry with all the condiments. One of my family’s favorites is Vodka sauce (see recipe below!).
Start your meal early, keeping in mind that the next day is a workday. In times past, supper was eaten early due to the farmer’s schedule of early to bed, early to rise. Start the pranzo tradition in your own home; I guarantee that having regular family time will change your family’s dynamic for the better!
Rosanna’s Tomato Vodka Sauce
1 large carrot
2 ribs celery with leaves
4 cloves garlic
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 (28-ounce) cans San Marzano Roma tomatoes
1 teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon sugar (if necessary)
¼ cup heavy cream
½ cup vodka
Pinch of pepperoncini, or hot red pepper flakes
Dice the carrot, celery, onion, and garlic (this can also be done in a food processor).
Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the chopped vegetables to the pan and sauté over medium heat until just soft, about 5 minutes.
Puree the tomatoes in a food processor, then add them to the pan. Add the salt, and sugar if necessary (I find that the San Marzanos are usually sweet enough on their own). Let the sauce simmer, uncovered, for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
Add the cream and vodka and simmer gently for 30 minutes; do not boil, or the sauce could curdle. Add the pepperoncini, then serve over pasta.