Like many Italian-American families, I grew up eating "macaroni and sauce" every Sunday afternoon as our big meal of the day. For us, it was always called macaroni. (In Italy this means a particular straight, tubular, square-ended pasta, and for many northerners it means elbows. But growing up in Niagara Falls in the '60s and '70s, spaghetti was spaghetti, noodles were noodles, and everything else was macaroni.) On the many other days of the week when we had "macaroni"-based meals, the Italian nomenclature would be tossed out by my father, the only Italian speaker among the six of us. Pasta piselli (pasta with peas), pasta lenticchie (pasta with lentils), and pasta e broccoli were all frequent weeknight dinners. "Macaroni," on the other hand, is what we had every Sunday because my father said he ate so much spaghetti growing up that he never wanted to see it again. From time to time I’d be asked to pick out the box of Ronzoni (it was always Ronzoni) from the pantry; I always picked rotelle, which is not wagon-wheel shaped as some other brands would have you think, but rather a slightly chunky corkscrew shape that stays chewy in the center when perfectly cooked.
Whichever shape you choose (spaghetti is classic, of course, for Sunday sauce), just be sure to account for about 1 pound of dried pasta for each 6 to 8 people, since this is the main course. Any leftover sauce can be frozen—that is the point, after all, of Sunday sauce. A gigantic pot of meaty red sauce can be cooked over the slow weekend, ready to be eaten throughout the busy workweek. —Gary Schiro