It is no surprise that italian cuisine is one of the most popular in the world. From pizza to pasta, it serves as the ultimate comfort food!
We caught up with salami expert and co-owner of local panini bar and café, Saluministi, Peter Mastro, to gain an insight into what Italian culture and cuisine is all about. What’s more, Peter also shares his favourite traditional Italian recipe – Salsiccia Ragu (pasta sauce with Italian sausages).
Keep reading to learn how you can cook this authentic Italian meal in your very own home. The ingredients can be purchased from Saluministi’s grocery store – Saluministi Alimentari.
What is your favourite Italian food memory from when you were a kid?
Definitely waking up on a Sunday morning to Dad cooking a sugo on the stove. We’d be running around the house in pyjamas and sit down for a lazy Sunday lunch, which is an Italian norm.
What was your favourite home-cooked growing up?
Without a doubt sugo (pasta sauce) and it had to have meat in it. Usually a beef ragu that has been cooked for hours and hours on low heat and just falls apart when you eat it. My favourite was when dad would use salsiccia in the sauce. It would always warm your heart and be the ultimate comfort food. So much so that you could do nothing but have a nap after lunch.
What traditional Italian recipe are you proud to share with us today?
Salsiccia Ragu - Tomato based pasta sauce with pork and fennel sausages.
What makes this dish so special?
It uses traditional home made Italian sausages which is completely different to the BBQ sausages used in Australia. The Italian sausage flavours have so much love and flavour in it that it lifts the sauce to another level, “a casa” or “at home.” You knew it was made in someones home with love, and not in a commercial restaurant.
Why do you thrive on sharing your wonderful Italian culture with the Victoria Harbour neighbourhood?
Italian culture and food has always been second nature to us but not accessible to a lot of people. Frank (co-owner of Saluminisiti) and I have always strived to give Melbournians the opportunity to access these flavours. Growing up in the suburbs of Melbourne, we had delicatessens and Mediterranean provedores on every corner. This is something the CBD and Docklands have always lacked, hence the reason Saluminisi ALIMENTARI was born!
The essence of Victoria Harbour’s strength is community. Do you see any elements of Italian culture shown or shared within this neighbourhood as far as community is concerned?
Saluministi is an opportunity to eat at a place that can give you a genuine insight into what Italian culture is like. Everyone from the owners through to the staff have lived and breathed all things Italian. We give locals access to our lives, people, food, flavours, wine, language and music. If people are longing for a trip to Italy, Saluministi will satisfy your cravings.
Salsiccia ragu (serves 4)
- 3 x garlic cloves
- 1 x brown onion
- 1 x cup of red wine
- 4 x 400g canned Italian tomatoes (San Marzano where possible)
- 1 x packet Saluministi pork and fennel spicey sausages (5 per packet)
- 1 x 500g Rigatono
- Parmigiano Regginao (to garnish)
- Salt and pepper for seasoning
- Finely chop onion and garlic. Cook off in a pot with extra virgin olive oil on medium heat and cook until soft and translucent.
- Add the sausages (whole) and brown off.
- Deglaze the pot with a good cup of red wine. This will ensure that all the caramelised goodness from the sausage and onions will be released into the the sauce.
- Blend and add the tomatoes.
- Season with salt and pepper. Note that the Saluministi sausages have plenty of salt already, so start with a pinch and increase to taste.
- Bring to the boil then reduce to a simmer. Cook slowly with the lid slightly ajar for up to two hours.
- Boil the pasta. If you are using Italian dry pasta, a hint is to always follow the instructions on the packet. This is a golden rule to ensure it is al dente (firm) every. Especially important to allow the pasta to hold the sauce securely and how it should be eaten!
- Drain the pasta and put the pasta back into the pot. Add a couple of ladels of sauce into the pot with the pasta and mix it together. This prevents the pasta from sticking to the bottom and each other, and helps to add more flavour.
- Plate the pasta with a whole sausage per person.
- Grate the cheese on top to liking (optional).
Saluministi and Saluministi Alimentari are open Monday to Saturday from 7.00am – 2.30pm and from 7.00am – 3.00pm on Thursdays.