Is there anything better than a home-cooked meal? Let's face, family recipes passed down from grandmothers are pretty hard to beat. On the season finale of TODAY All Day's "Dylan Dishes: Cooking with Cal," Cal and I are sharing "Grandma's Greatest" hits to honor two amazing grandmas — and their amazing recipes!. First up, we make my mom's pasta salad, a no-fuss weeknight recipe that uses just five ingredients. Then, we're tackling my grandma's short ribs, a comforting meal that's perfect for chilly winter nights.
One of the biggest challenges many home cooks often face in the kitchen is just not knowing where to start or what to make. Well, here's one of my tips: Always start with what you know and and what you loved growing up. Think back to what your parents and grandparents served — there's probably a reason they made certain dishes over and over again.
I've also found that family recipes are often the simplest, which is probably why our parents made them so often. My mom's pasta salad is proof of that! You only need pasta, canned black olives (or any olives you love), canned chopped tomatoes (San Marzano tomatoes are my go-to), some parsley and olive oil. I also love this dish because it's so versatile. It can be eaten hot, cold or at room temperature. It's also great as a side or a main dish for lunch.
My mom used to toss this pasta salad together all the time, so it really brings me back to my childhood. I still can close my eyes and remember the smells, sounds and tastes as we all gathered around our kitchen table. This is nostalgia at its finest. Now, I love being able to share this recipe with my family and Cal loves it just as much as I do.
Growing up, my grandmother lived in an apartment my dad built above our garage, so I remember the special feeling of walking up to have dinner there: It always smelled like something warm and hearty was cooking. One of my favorite recipes (to eat and make) is her short ribs, which may sound daunting but really, it's very straightforward and doesn't require too many ingredients, you just need a little patience while the meat gets nice and tender in the oven. This recipe makes plenty of leftovers so it's easy to make ahead for a weeknight or serve up on a special occasion when you want everyone at the dinner table to feel cozy and full.