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Tasty homecooking that comes with ‘Big Love’

As 2020 continues on…and on…and on… everyone could use a little bit of comfort food. And that is where “Big Love Cooking” by Joey Campanaro comes in.

The Italian-American chef and owner of Greenwich Village restaurant Little Owl released his cookbook to celebrate cooking like his mom and grandma used to do on Sundays. And everyone could use a little home cooking during all of this.

This collection of 75 recipes are meant to be savored, including the photos and stories Campanaro includes to give everything a little slice of home.

From Brunch, Soups and Salads, Vegetables, Pasta, Meat and Poultry, Fish and Seafood, Sunday Supper and Desserts, the recipes are all authentic Mediterranean and all sound delicious. From Cinnamon Sugar Benigets at Brunch to My Mother’s Ziti in Pasta, to Chicken Cacciatore in Meat and Poultry and Mascarpone Semifreddo in Desserts, there is plenty for all to choose from.

At home, I tried the School Days Sausage and Peppers Sandwiches. Though a lot in my household don’t like peppers, and were told to “pick them out” everyone came away loving these sandwiches and wanted them to be made again. Apparently, peppers add flavor. Who knew? These are definitely messy and definitely worth it. And everyone can try them at home with the recipe provided by the book below.

“Big Love Cooking is published by Chronicle Books.

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Reprinted from Big Love Cooking by Joey Campanaro with permission by Chronicle Books, 2020

SCHOOL DAYS SAUSAGE AND PEPPERS SANDWICHES

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Growing up as an Italian-American in South Philly meant that there were three things you could count on: Catholic school, Sunday gravy, and Sunday gravy leftovers for Monday lunch. However, instead of Catholic school, my parents sent me to public school in Center City. I rolled into school most Mondays with my mom’s sausage and peppers sandwich on a sesame seed roll in my lunch bag. And most kids thought I was a weirdo. One day, there was a “situation” with another kid. And in my need to diffuse it, I offered him a bite of my sausage and peppers sandwich (he was expecting spice, but instead was hooked on the taste of the sweet, slow-cooked peppers and rich sausage). It was a very eye-opening experience for me; I understood for the first time how to create relationships through food. And also, I understood the power of negotiation. Aha! I thought. Now I can come in with the goods and in return try something I never get at home: peanut butter and jelly on whole wheat bread.

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Serves 6

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3 Tbsp olive oil

1 lb [455 g] sweet Italian sausage links

2 medium red bell peppers, cut into ™ in [6 mm] thick strips

1/2 white onion, thinly sliced

1 garlic clove, minced

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

2 fresh basil leaves, torn

4 cups [960 ml] Simple Marinara (page 106)

6 sesame seed rolls, store-bought from your favorite bakery

6 thick slices aged provolone cheese

In a medium heavy pot over medium-high heat, add 2 Tbsp of the olive oil and warm until it shimmers. Add the sausage links and cook, turning now and then to brown on all sides, 8 to 10 minutes (depending on the plumpness of your links). Using tongs, remove the sausage from the pot, transfer to a cutting board, and set aside.

To the same pot, add the remaining 1 Tbsp oil, the peppers, onions, and garlic. Season generously with salt and black pepper, lower the heat to medium, and cook until the peppers and onions are softened, 10 to 12 minutes.

Meanwhile, use a sharp knife to cut each link into ¢ in [12 mm] thick diagonal slices. You probably noticed that they were still pink in the middle. Don’t worry, you just browned the outside for flavor and next you’ll thoroughly cook them in the marinara sauce. Also, cutting them at an angle instead of straight down provides more surface area in anticipation of soaking up all the heavenly flavors of the marinara, peppers, and onions.

Transfer the sausage pieces back to the pot with the peppers and onions, add the basil and marinara, and cook uncovered, stirring now and then, until everyone in the pot becomes good, good friends and their flavors meld and your whole house fills with the fragrance of softened sweet peppers and porky sausage, about 45 minutes.

Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly before (stabbing a hunk with your fork and eating it on the sly?–I do it, too!) dividing the sausage and pepper mixture among the sesame seed rolls and topping each with a thick slice of aged provolone. Put on the Eagles game and serve immediately.

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