Hai! I’m really on a roll with the … shall we call it, drunk food lately, huh? I guess there’s just something about winter that makes me want to pack on a little extra for warmth. I know everyone out there is eating healthy salad bowls, but I’m totally not sorry about this unapologetically carb on carb action. It’s a thing of beauty so embrace it!
When I was little, I would always beg my mom to buy those ready-to-bake garlicky cheese topped French bread boats that you would find at the grocery store. Sometimes, when she made spaghetti (always with ground pork), she would buy half a loaf and bake it up. I’d be in carb heaven. Funny thing is, my mom’s meat sauce was never quite like (read: not as delicious) the meat sauce that I had at my friend’s houses or even the school cafeteria.
I didn’t know it back then, but now I know it’s because the meat sauce that I was obsessed with as a kid was a version of bolognese. Bolognese is the bomb. It’s rich, hearty, and so so good. I kind of sort of had an obsession with it then. Matter of fact, I still do. I love Bolognese sauce so much that when we were in Europe last year, I convinced Mike to take a little side trip to Bologna, the home of my ultimate sauce. It was a pilgrimage for me – I HAD to go and have bolognese in Bologna. I was convinced that it would be the BEST bolognese I would ever have in my life.
Spoiler: it wasn’t. It was delicious but I think the fact that it was over 100°F kind of dampened my mood. What’s more is that I convinced Mike that I wanted to check out the Sanctuary of the Madonna di San Luca, a gorgeous church with even more breathtaking views of the rolling Italian countryside. Google told me it was a nice little slightly upward 2 and bit mile stroll under a roofed arcade. Roofed, I thought? That meant it was shady and therefore a breeze, right? Well, what Google didn’t tell me was about were the stairs, or the fact that there used to be a cable car to take people to the top of the hill.
Apparently, nowadays, the only people who climb up the mountain (yes, it’s a mountain, not a hill!) are on a pilgrimage, suckers for punishment (by that I mean runners), and tourists. I ended up being in all three categories. I thought I was on a food pilgrimage, but I ended up on a literal pilgrimage to a church. There I was, sweating in the heat while the hardcore Bolognans were running up and down the stairs making me look incredibly weak. So yeah, kind of sort of made my whole Bologna experience a hot and sweaty mess.
But, you guys, the view at the top was totally worth it. And there was even a bonus breeze! It was glorious. The only thing that could have taken it over the top for me was if there was a little cart serving up tagliatelle bolognese. Total missed opportunity. Anyway, even after all that I still LOVE bolognese, all the time and in all the places.
So now, whenever I’m feeling just a little bit chilly, I throw on a giant pot of bolognese and think about that time that I was so hot hiking up a hill that I got my first ever heat rash. It was probably not a good idea to walk from our hotel to the base of Sanctuary of the Madonna di San Luca, but when I’m on vacation I love walking. I seriously thought it would be easy! If you ever go to Bologna, you should definitely make your way to San Luca. There’s a bus that takes you to the base and you can make your way up slowly to the top. Know your limits! And don’t forget to eat oodles of noodles in bolognese sauce while you’re there.
Oh, and in case you are considering visiting Bologna, just a heads up. Last year, when I met the lovely Valentina at the Saveur Food Blog Awards and told her that I visited, she was shocked. Apparently most people who go to Italy don’t make a stop. It’s kind of a university town, if you know what I mean by that.
And on that note, I think this recipe would fit right in with the university crowds! I feel a little guilty even calling this a recipe, but sometimes you need a reminder of the greatness of bread boats. Don’t be afraid of carbs friends. Carbs are your friends. They fill you up, make you happy, and never ever judge. They exist to give you pleasure so why deny them of their life purpose? C’mon, give in a little and have some carbs on carbs. You know you want to…
Spaghetti Garlic Bread Boat Recipe
makes as many as needed
- Italian roll, sliced in half
- garlic butter or butter and a clove of garlic cut in half
- left over spaghetti tossed in meat sauce, warmed
- extra warmed meat sauce, as needed
- shredded mozzarella, as needed
- finely chopped flat leaf parsley, if desired)
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Spread the garlic butter on the bread, or spread on the butter and rub with your garlic clove. Bake the bread for about 5 minutes, until slightly browned and crispy. Remove, top with spaghetti, extra sauce and a generous amount of mozzarella. Bake until cheese is melty, bubbly and delicious, about 10 minutes. Remove, top with flat leaf parsley and enjoy!
*If you don’t want to do the extra step of crisping up the garlic bread, you can skip it, but I think the crisp bread pairs nicely with the spaghetti.
PS – As you can see, I’m trying out a longer format. Yes? No? Tell me what you think!