Italian-American Favorites F&W's Grace Parisi learned to cook from her mother but taught herself a few new tricks.

By Grace Parisi
Updated March 31, 2015

Family dinners were always special when I was growing up. My mother, Fran Parisi, was (and is) a fantastic home cook. Even though she had a full-time job, she always made traditional Italian-American recipes completely from scratch—as you'd expect from the daughter of a restaurateur who emigrated from Sicily to Brooklyn. So when I introduced her to my favorite jarred marinara sauce, I was braced to hear, "Your grandfather would roll over in his grave." But instead, she said, "I'm amazed at the quality of jarred sauces nowadays." I won't serve just anything from a jar (a matter of pride—I blame my mother!), but I'm pleased with the shortcuts in the recipes here. And they're Fran-approved, too.

Grace's Time-Saving Tips

10 min

Grace halves and cores Italian frying peppers and cooks the spinach for the stuffing.

15 min

Instead of ground meat, Grace uses sausage to give the stuffing fast flavor.

20 min

After browning the stuffed peppers, Grace simmers them in canned tomato sauce, then serves.

Video: More Tips From Grace Parisi

Grace Parisi: Spinach Tip

Fast Recipes

Credit: © Quentin Bacon

Spinach-and-Sausage-Stuffed Peppers

"I may never use ground meat in my peppers again," said Fran Parisi, Grace's mother, when she tried this super-flavorful sausage-stuffed version.

Spaghettini with Tomatoes, Anchovies and Almonds

"We always ate fresh tomatoes with basil, but I never thought to add pasta to them," says Fran about Grace's spaghettini with its tasty no-cook tomato sauce. "This pasta reminds me of a salad I had many times in Sicily, loaded with tomatoes, anchovies and almonds."

Credit: © Quentin Bacon

Chicken Scarpariello

"I never knew what Peppadew peppers were, but I love their sweet-spicy flavor in this chicken," says Fran.

Credit: © Quentin Bacon

Big Italian Salad

"The salad reminds me of one my mother made," says Fran. "Her dressing had no mayo, of course—it was strictly oil and vinegar."

Shrimp Fra Diavolo

Fra diavolo means "brother devil"—a hint that this shrimp dish is spicy. Fran prepares it the traditional way, with homemade tomato sauce; Grace takes a shortcut and uses her favorite jarred sauce, Rao's. Fran always poaches the shrimp in the sauce, but Grace gives the shrimp extra flavor by first marinating it quickly in olive oil with crushed red pepper.

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