Last July, I lost my mom unexpectedly to cancer. Raised in an old-fashioned, Brooklyn-bred Italian family, food was my mom's love language, and was at the core of my relationship with her. From her family pancake recipe to Italian staples like eggplant parmigiana, and her legendary bolognese sauce, our meals were some of my best memories of her, and now a critical part of my grieving process.
I'd watched her make her Sunday sauce so many times, but never wrote down the directions, or captured a complete ingredient list. I just always assumed she'd be around to make it herself. When she passed away, and I'd taken my last bite of the sauce she'd frozen away for me, I decided to piece together her recipe for the sauce and baked ziti. This is my attempt at connecting the past to the present—and finding a way to welcome the future.
Note: I recommend using Hunt's or Cento brand crushed tomatoes as well as Hunt's sauce, which is what my mom always preferred, but feel free to swap out with any other good quality brand—the quality of tomatoes makes a difference!
For more stories, memories, and extended histories behind your most-loved, treasured family recipes from the column, check out our new podcast My Family Recipe. —Joelle Zarcone
Test Kitchen Notes
Featured in: Grief, With a Side of Baked Ziti. —The Editors