Serendipity = the phenomenon of finding valuable or agreeable things not sought for
Amen. I first fell in love with the idea of serendipity as a child when I read the wonderful children’s series by Stephen Cosgrove (remember Leo the Lop?). Serendipity was a pink sea monster who came across fortunate discoveries by accident while learning to cope with life’s everyday mishaps. The moral of Serendipity’s story is “knowing who you really are will bring you happiness.” Today, in my middle age, I still find happy surprises where I didn’t expect them…and call out “Serendipity!” when the moment hits me.
So, when I tried a few weeks ago to make braciole – an Italian steak roulade or filled meat roll – things didn’t go so well. The meat was tender but dry (probably because I used the wrong kind of steak and cooked it too long), the filling was too thick and choppy (because I should have pureed it in my Cuisinart), and I did a horrible job of tying the meat roll with butcher’s string. (The very next day after my beefy disaster, while surfing The Cooking Channel, I found a “Good Eats” episode on exactly the proper way to make braciole. This was not a serendipitous moment at all – rather, as Alanis Morisette so aptly put it – ironic.)
My serendipitous moment came when I made the marinara sauce that smothered the braciole. My little culinary disaster reared a wonderfully light tomato sauce flavored with onions, garlic, herbs, carrots and celery. And it made enough for the braciole plus a large Mason jar (plenty for today’s spaghetti recipe).
I may or may not attempt braciole again (I’ll have to consult Alton Brown on this one), but I now have a tasty marinara sauce that will become a staple in my house – Serendipity!
Marinara Sauce Ingredients
1/2 cup Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
1 small Onion, chopped
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1 stalk Celery, chopped
1 Carrot, chopped
2 (32-oz.) cans Crushed Tomatoes
1 Tbsp. dried Basil or 4 to 6 fresh Basil Leaves
2 Bay Leaves
Sea Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper
Garlic Bread Ingredients
1 loaf French Bread
1 clove Garlic, crushed
1/2 tsp. each of dried Basil and Oregano
Grated Cheese (Parmesan or Pecorino Romano)
While the sauce is simmering, preheat oven at 375 degrees. Prepare the garlic bread.