When I packed my bags to move across the globe from Singapore to Buenos Aires in April 2010, my bright eyes and large wide smile barely managed to hide the fear that I felt in my heart.
At 24 years old, I’d just quit a job in a large international bank, and was about to board a flight to South America for love, a bold move that I was betting would pay off in my relationship with Juan.
The truth was, I was as terrified as much as I was excited. It was the first time I would be living alone in a country so far away from home; on a continent I’d only been on twice before. The only person I knew there was Juan, I didn’t have friends or relatives living in the Argentine capital, I didn’t have a job waiting for me, nor could I hold a proper conversation in Spanish.
As the plane soared into the clouds and the long 24-hour journey to Buenos Aires began, I whispered inaudibly to myself, “I just hope I’m doing the right thing.”
Five years later and still happily in love, I know I did.
The thing is, uprooting yourself from a place of familiarity to a foreign land is never easy, particularly if you’ve never been there before.
That is precisely why I have such a deep admiration for immigrants: people who realised that in order to attain a better life, they would have to leave all that they knew or were attached to.
In 1914, a young woman named Assunta Cantisano left her hometown in Naples, Italy, and sailed across the oceans to arrive in America, where she hoped to make a new home for herself.
Assunta had come to the United States with little more than her few belongings and a family heirloom: her family’s treasured homemade pasta sauce recipe. When she eventually settled in Rochester, New York, Assunta started putting down roots in the city and country that was still foreign to her, trying to make sense of and be a part of life in this new land.
At the height of the Great Depression in 1937, Assunta felt the need to support her family financially, and she sold her first jar of homemade pasta sauce to a neighbor right on her front porch. Her family’s tomato sauce recipe was a combination of fresh, vine-ripened tomatoes and flavorful herbs whose tastes naturally shone through, and it was little wonder that as more jars were sold and more neighbors asked for her tomato sauce, Assunta finally decided to open the Ragú Packing Company.
(Get to know more about Assunta and her amazing journey here.)
By the 1950s and 1960s, Ragu pasta sauce had become a staple in many American kitchens, and today, it has become America’s favorite pasta sauce.
I believe that Ragu’s secret is the company’s commitment to quality. Despite experiencing rapid growth, Ragu always ensures that all its sauces are made from 100% vine-ripened California tomatoes, grown and picked from the farms before being carefully cooked and sealed into jars.
Each jar of sauce, from the first one sold in 1937 to the one you can get from any large supermarket today, brims with the authentic taste of a sauce simmered in tradition.
(Find out more about Ragu’s amazing pasta sauces here! I’m betting you’ll find one you’ll love.)
I found Assunta’s story particularly inspiring given that I’d also moved away from my homeland being a young girl. She was a woman entrepreneur in a male-dominated society and age; but she didn’t let that deter her, and even made a name for herself and her family’s heirloom pasta sauce recipe in a country that once wasn’t even hers. Now, isn’t that incredibly inspirational?
When I first moved to Buenos Aires, and we were still staying with Juan’s family, his mum Susana would often cook pasta every Sunday – a family tradition in their Italian-Spanish family that would result in a rich and delicious aroma that would draw the whole family to the kitchen.
The ingredients Susana used would vary depending on what was available at the butcher’s that day, but more often than not, she would make a large pot of beef bolognese sauce, and sprinkle a generous amount of freshly grated cheese on top.
Today, I wanted to re-create that experience with a slight twist – instead of beef, I’m opting for a healthy choice of turkey, and am substituing gluten-free fusilli pasta for wheat spaghetti.
Susana usually makes her tomato sauce from scratch, but I chose to use a jar of Ragu pasta sauce instead, since it would save me time without losing any of the flavor. The best part of using the Ragu pasta sauce is that there are no artificial flavors and no high fructose corn syrup in its ingredients, and it’s super affordable, which is helps me to stick to my grocery budget.
Even though I made a couple of tweaks to Susana’s recipe, the essence of a pasta dish full of taste and richness is still there.
You begin by sautéing diced onions in a large pan until they turn translucent, then add in minced garlic and mix until it turns fragrant and golden. At this point, add in ground turkey that’s been mixed with fresh thyme leaves, and stir until the meat is browned and just cooked, before pouring in the pasta sauce and allowing the turkey bolognese to simmer gently over low heat. When the bolognese is almost done, cook the pasta according to package instructions, then mix with the bolognese and serve hot garnished with torn basil and grated parmesan cheese.
I hope you’ll enjoy it and I’m glad I could share this tradition with you!
Do you have any family traditions that you’d like to share? I want to hear all about it! Tell me in the comments below, and let’s keep our traditions alive!
Here’s another exciting piece of news:
There’s a sweeps contest on Food.com called Ready. Set. Cook! that challenges home cooks to create new and unique recipes featuring Ragu Pasta Sauce along with a set list of ingredients, with a chance to win cash prizes of up to $3000! Be sure to check it out and enter the contest (it’s too good to be missed)!
- 1 pound of ground turkey
- 1 teaspoon of fresh thyme leaves
- 1 large onion, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 jar (24 oz) of Ragu pasta sauce
- Salt to taste
- 12 oz of uncooked gluten-free fusilli pasta
- ¼ cup of torn basil leaves for garnishing
- ½ cup grated parmesan cheese for garnishing
- In a bowl, mix ground turkey with fresh thyme leaves and set aside
- Saute diced onions in a large saucepan over medium heat, until onions turn translucent (a few minutes)
- Add in garlic and stir well until fragrant (30 seconds)
- Add in ground turkey-thyme mixture and mix until turkey is browned and cooked
- Pour in Ragu pasta sauce and bring heat down to low
- Add salt to taste then let turkey bolognese simmer for the next 30 to 45 minutes
- As bolognese sauce is almost finished simmering, cook gluten-free fusilli pasta according to package instructions. When fusilli is cooked, pour pasta into a strainer and run cold tap water over to prevent it from cooking further
- Once bolognese sauce is done, add in cooked pasta and mix well
- Divide pasta evenly into 4 plates and garnish with torn basil leaves and grated parmesan cheese