Ah, yes. This week we’re going to explore the ancient Arabic secret of spaghetti. This dish was one of my favorites growing up and I have to say that my paternal grandmother’s recipe of saneeya (baked) spaghetti gave my mom’s a run for its masaari (money).
I, sadly, don’t have my tata’s recipe for this dish. I thankfully do still remember when she would make it for me though. I spent many a Saturday hanging out at my tata’s house. She lived in this awesome house that sat right at the corner of Hawthorne and Mandell in the Montrose. It had red shag carpet, bars on all the doors and windows (one can never be to careful, yo) and a huge kitchen where she would make me food. Interestingly enough, she also had like three freezers. She kept one unplugged and used it to store, well, everything imaginable; spices, cash and crinkled brown bags filled with randomness to name a few.
She knew how much I loved this dish in its pre-baked phase and she’d always cook it for me when I asked for it. It’s so simple, but something about the way she spiced it was perfect. It was the right ratio of tomato to pasta to spice. It had a slight kick to it that definitely set the tone for my love of spicy vs. sweet tomato-y-based dishes.
My mom was a pro at making this dish, too. But, when I think about saneeya, my memory always takes me back to my tata and how much she loved cooking this for me. I’ve tried several times over the years to duplicate her sauce, but it’s never worked. I always did it by memory vs. a recipe – mainly because I never had access to one.
So here’ s my mama’s version. I can’t wait to try it out.
Spaghetti with lamb
Boil 2 12 oz. packages of spaghetti until it gets tender, strain and leave aside.
In another pot, brown chunks of lamb with butter and diced onions (to taste, I guess) then add water and salt and let boil until the meat is done.
Add to the meat and cook until it’s thickened:
2 cans of tomato paste
Then, in a large pan, add the soup and the spaghetti and put in the oven at 500 degrees for 15-20 minutes until it gets golden brown (almost burnt) and crisp on the surface.