Dear Noelle, I don't make homemade manicotti shells. I buy my shells imported from Italy at an Italian store. But,…
As a second-generation Italian-American, Lisa grew up with the tradition of Sunday Dinner and the Sunday family dinner ideas that accompanied that tradition. For Lisa and her family, Sunday was a time to disconnect from the rest of the world and reconnect with family and friends. As Lisa raised her own three children in the United States and in Italy, she kept Sundays sacred for her family, making sure to cook together and dream together each Sunday in the kitchen. But getting your family together for Sunday dinner can be hard, especially as we all have activities, work commitments, Zoom calls, smartphones and email to manage. In her cookbook, Whatever Happened to Sunday Dinner?, Lisa shared her tips and advice to get your family back to the Sunday Dinner table. In this series, we share recipes for more Sunday family dinner ideas with Lisa’s Sunday Sauces.
Sunday Family Dinner Ideas from Lisa’s Italian Kitchen
Here are five tips to inform your Sunday family dinner ideas and make your planning easier, from Lisa’s cookbook Whatever Happened to Sunday Dinner?:
Sunday Family Dinner Idea #1
Make Sunday a priority: Thinking of Sunday family dinner ideas can be daunting if you have a busy week at work, if your children have activities, and when life happens, in general! But coming up with dinner plans should be like meditating- a dedicated time when you are able to check in with yourself, think of the fun, and enjoy being with the ones you love at the end of the week.
Sunday Family Dinner Idea #2
Plan ahead: Lisa is a huge fan of making lists and always carries a notebook with her. She keeps her Sunday family dinner ideas going by planning her shopping list early in the week, and shopping early in the morning. One of the hallmarks of planning ahead is also discussing meal ideas with your own family. Cater to favorite dishes and cravings! Lisa’s children are never shy (even as adults!) about sharing their own Sunday dinner ideas.
Sunday Family Dinner Ideas #3
Decide the menu and assign chores together: Lisa’s books are made of 52 menus, one for each Sunday of the year. With five recipes from antipasto to dessert in every menu, there is something for everyone. Buying and using Lisa’s Sunday Sauces can make involving younger members of your family – even elderly parents – much easier. An adult can hold the pot of pasta while a child uses a spatula to pour the pasta into the pan that will go in the oven. Without the need to slave away at the oven all day, you can more simply put recipes together, letting everyone feel involved in Sunday family dinner ideas.
Sunday Family Dinner Ideas #4
Keep the menu simple: Lisa’s Sunday Sauces are simple, and her cookbooks share rustic Italian recipes. As Lisa is fond of saying- this is not French food! Forget the multiple, complicated sauces in your Sunday family dinner ideas! This recipe for Pasta al Forno below is a great Sunday family dinner idea: it can be assembled in about 20 minutes, pairs well with a salad or other vegetable, and can be assembled by older or younger generations. Because the dish is so simple, you can have fun with appetizers and dessert, choosing recipes that might take more time.
Sunday Family Dinner Ideas #5
Let go and have fun!: The most important part of Sunday family dinner ideas!
Sunday Family Dinner Ideas Recipe: Pasta al Forno with Lisa’s Three Meat Sauce and Classic Red Sauce
- Besciamella (Bechamel or Panna da Cucina)
- 1 and ½ jars of Lisa’s Italian Kitchen Three Meat Neapolitan Meat Sauce
- 1 jar of Lisa’s Italian Kitchen Classic Red Sauce
- 1 lb Rigatoni
Cook the pasta two minutes under cooking time on the package. Cover the bottom of a 9×13 casserole with one third of the jar of Lisa’s Classic Red Sauce.
Add the meat sauce and the remaining red sauce to the cooked pasta. Toss well.
Pour one layer of the pasta into the casserole, then layer the besciamella.
Add a layer of Parmigiano.
Repeat the process, then top with a final layer Parmigiano. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes at 350 degrees until bubbly, then remove and serve.