A culinary masterpiece
By TONY CECERE
This recipe owes its name to the immortal condu-
tor of the NBC Symphony, Arturo Toscanni. The
maestro would have enjoyed the character of this
lasagne which, like many of his own interpretations,
relies on a lot of spice to create a masterpiece.
The style of sauce used herein originates with Mama
and Grandma Cecere's own formulas, but has been
modified slightly due to hardships encountered in pro-
curing authentic ingredients anywhere west of Cleve-
Be forewarned that this is not a 20 minute Chef
Boy-ar-dee special; sometimes it takes eight hours
from the genesis of the sauce to the time you actually
sit down and "mangare". One way to defeat this
problem is to prepare the sauce one day ahead of time
and to refrigerate it overnight, using a plastic or
ceramic container to preserve the slightly acidic
No reasonable expense should be spared in the pur-
fchasing of the ingredients: great art should not suffer
financial indignity. It is entirely possible to dispose
of $15 or more on the materials, but good planning
will yield eight servings, so it is worth it from a per
capita standpoint. Incidentally, the elite palates of the
Daily staff all agree that UFW wine tastes better than
scab wines, both in and out of the sauce. '
2 1g. cans peeled tomatoes
2 sm. cans tomato paste
2 Ig. cans tomato sauce
1 lb. ground beef
% - 1 cup burgundy wine
3 cloves garlic
4 - 5 scallions (green onions)
10 oz. fresh mushrooms
1 green pepper
10 oz. grated Romano or Parmesan cheese
3 - 4 Ig. bay leaves
3 sprigs parsley
4 tbsp. sugar
The sauce is the largest part of the operation.
Warning: At no time during the cooking should the
sauce be covered in any manner, as distilled, bitter
evaporating water will seep back in and ruin the sauce.
First, cut the canned tomatoes with a knife and fork
into inch-square sections and save the excess water
for later use. Using a strainer, take a spoon and
mash the tomato sections into a pulpy mixture with
the water from the can.
Putting that aside, turn to the vegetables. Prepare
the scallions by trimming the root and cutting into very
small, horizonal sections. Use the entire stalk, not
just the white part. Then take three cloves of garlic
and chop the pieces into small particles (a smaller
kitchen knife works very well). Finally, mix the garlic
with the scallions in a small bowl. Then prepare the
mushrooms, trimming off the bottom surface of the
flat end of the stem. Cut into vertical slices so that
you have a two-dimensional pictrue of an atomic bomb
Remove the seeds and stems from the green pep-
per, simultaneously washing the inner surface to re-
move any remaining seeds. I prefer to chop the pep-
per into long, thin vertical sections, but do what you
Line the bottom of a four quart pot with olive oil.
When the oil is warm add the mixed scallions and gar-
lic, occasionally stirring with a wooden spoon. Do not
let the olive oil get too hot. After five minutes add your
green pepper and wait another five minutes before
mixing in the mushrooms.
When the mushrooms partially darken, lower the
heat to a simmer and stir in the tomato paste. Grad-
ually pour in approximately half the wine that you
expect to use. My main weakness as a sauce chef is
my liberal attitude towards wine, so be advised to
taste often until the point of ultimate satisfacion is
Next pour in the canned tomatoes and tomato sauce.
Allow this mixture to simmer for 15-20 minutes and
stir often enough to prevent a skin from forming on
the surface of the sauce. Season with salt and pepper,
using your own discretion, but remember that sea sal
will require a larger amount than regular salt to
achieve the same balance. Now add the bay leaves,
pushing them to the bottom of the pot. The sauce
should have a reasonably thick consistency; if it
doon't, simply extend your cooking time so that more
water will evaporate. Should you find the sauce too
Tony Cecere is a reviewer for The Daily and makes
the finest lasagne this editor has ever tasted.
thick there are two alternatives: either open a third
can of peeled, canned tomatoes and use the water
but not the tomaoes or (heh-heh) add more wine.
Sugar goes in next. Remember that sugar added to
salt is a sure way to sweeten a sauce, so use one in
combination with the other should your mixture taste
excessively tart. Wine will function well in the oppo-
site direction if tartness is desired.
The sauce will keep for a while. The ground beef
should be prepared and added after the vegetables
permeate the tomato sauce with their individual flav-
ors. Prepare the meat in a separate pan, employing
a % inch lining of olive oil. Fry over a medium
heat until the beef disintegrates into small brown
morsels. A small amount of parsley thrown into the
frying pan will improve the flavor of the meat (say
about half a sprig).
After the meat is done, save the oil and add about
a tablespoon to the sauce right after the meat. Then
mix in two tablespoons of grated Parmesan cheese.
This will improve the texture as well as the taste. After
all of this you may add your basil and caraway seeds
(I like to use just a teaspoon of caraway for a soft
coloring to the sauce).
Oregano is a tricky spice, for the reaction between
it and other spices differs with the length of time
allowed, and oregano present in a sauce for more
than l5 minutes will certainly taste extremely bitter.
So be careful. The parsley may be added to taste.
Now after all of that the lasagne must be prepareat
Life is not easy sometimes.
Tomato sauce alla Cecere
2 lbs. lasagne (the pasta)
Grated Romano and Parmesan, mixed
1 lbs. Ricotta cheese
1 lbs. Mozzarella cheese
Lasagne Toscanini will require at least two full
size pans. I'm assuming that you are going to have
company for this "Feste Napolitana", because it is
not worth the effort if friends and relatives aren't pre-
sent and ready to swoon from the consumption of this
Set up another four quart pot almost filled with water
and add a generous pinch or two of salt along with a
tablespoon of olive oil to prevent the lasagne from
sticking. Boil the water and add the lasagne one sheet
at a time, inserting each sheet from a different edge
of the pot, much like bicycle spokes. This will insure
that no sheet of pasta will rest directly upon another
sheet, the most common cause of gluey pasta. Boil for
10 -12 minutes and don't worry if the lasagne ap-
pears to be undercooked as it will be baked later on.
See LASAGNE, Page 9