Thanksgiving is the single biggest cooking juggernaut in the calendar here in America. People all over the country throw themselves into cooking an impossibly huge feast. Cooks who normally feed four people suddenly have to feed twenty or more. The setup, prep, cooking and carving take hours and hours, only to have the eating be done in two hours.
Nobody really wants to cook on Thanksgiving weekend. Well, we don't blame you.
Fortunately, here in OC we have Mangi con Amore, a staple at our local farmers' markets. They started out making cookies and sweets, but now make homemade pastas and sauces. I personally can vouch for the butternut squash ravioli, the spinach and cheese tortelloni (the latter is nearly always in my freezer) and the tagliolini, as well as the trofie, little twists of pasta that can be dressed up with pesto.
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The caponata (Sicilian eggplant sauce) is good enough, but the star sauce they have is the boscaiolo mushroom sauce, made with shiitake mushrooms. It screams out for a little branch of rosemary to be thrown in as you sauté the cooked pasta (the tagliolini, perhaps) in the sauce.
While the pasta is normally what I go to Mangi con Amore for, they also make a mean cookie. The polentina are crunchy cornmeal cookies with lines of raspberry running through them like a staff on sheet music; the cucidati (dried fig cookies) are like distilled essence of Newton, and their pizzelles are light and have just the right amount of snap.
While you're out shopping for the vegetables for your Thanksgiving feast, pick up some pasta and sauce and you can have Friday or Saturday's dinner on the table in 15 minutes flat.
You can find Mangi con Amore at the following farmers' markets: Tuesday at Brea (4 p.m. to 8 p.m.); Wednesday at San Juan Capistrano (3 p.m. to 7 p.m.); Thursday at Costa Mesa (9 a.m. to 1 p.m.) and, in season, at Fullerton (4 p.m. to 8 p.m.); Friday at Laguna Hills (9 a.m. to 1 p.m.) and Huntington Beach (1 p.m. to 5 p.m.); Saturday at Irvine and Laguna Beach (both 8 a.m. to noon); Sunday at Laguna Niguel (9 a.m. to 1 p.m.). Call (949) 338-7487 for more information.