The Doc Project

Amazing Grace: Three recipes from Grace Bagnato

Grace Bagnato's legacy runs deep — and her recipes are no exception. Especially her famous meatballs.

Grace Bagnato's legacy runs deep — and her recipes are no exception. Especially her famous meatballs.

Grace Bagnato's legacy for humanitarian and advocacy work runs deep. But so does her legacy for always cooking the most delicious food for whoever was hungry. (Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images)
Listen to the full episode27:26

To read the full-length feature about Grace Bagnato, click here

"It was the aroma that grabbed you. It played with your taste buds and sent hungry signals to your brain, then pulled you in like a culinary magnet into that magical place.... Mom's kitchen," wrote the late Vince Bagnato in the foreward to a family cookbook. The book, featuring the recipes of Vince's mother Grace Bagnato, has now been in the family for more than a decade.

"Though she remains evergreen in my thoughts, as constant as my shadow, she is gone.... but her recipes are here forever." 

In a tribute to Grace, the Bagnato family matriarch, various members of the family submitted their favourite Grace-associated recipes to create A Taste From Grace's Table. It includes recipes that Grace, who died in 1950, made and mastered over her years raising 13 children and feeding anyone from the neighbourhood who she thought looked hungry. 

Grace Bagnato's family submitted various recipes they associated with her to create a cherished cookbook in her name. (CBC)

Grace Bagnato's Homemade Chicken Soup

Submitted by Marisa Bannon

"I am almost 40 years old and whenever I feel sick or I am cold or just feeling blue, I still want my mommy's soup. I try making it but it never seems to turn out like my mom's," Marisa wrote. 

Base ingredients

  • 1 large pot of Spring water
  • 1/2 package of garlic and basil cubes
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 1 tin diced tomatoes
  • Swiss chard, bok choy or spinach 
  • 1 package chicken cubes
  • 4 onions
  • 1 large package carrots
  • Romano cheese

Meatball ingredients 

  • Preferably veal or pork
  • 2 or 3 eggs per lb. of meat
  • Breadcrumbs
  • Romano or parmesan cheese
  • Parsley and basil (whatever other spices you like)
  • Chopped garlic 
  • Salt and pepper

Meatball instructions

  • mix eggs into meat
  • combine meat and egg mixture with remaining meatball ingredients but don't overmix


  • Washed, boiled and de-boned 

Cooked pasta

  • tubatini or baby shells

Base instructions

  • Wash all veggies well and chop. Place all base ingredients in large pot and bring to boil. Add de-boned chicken and meatballs and let simmer on low for a few hours. Add pasta when done. 

Auntie Millie's Meatballs

Submitted by Angela Puzzolanti Jr. 

"I must have watched my grandmother make meatballs thousands of times and the image is still so vivid. I can see her tasting the raw meat and grabbing spices to add a little of this or that with Romano cheese-covered hands until they were just perfect. She used to say it was all in the mixing but we knew it was all in her touch. Still to this day, when we make her meatballs and they come out REALLY good, we say 'they taste almost like Nanny's.' Without her touch, it is almost as close as we can get," Angela wrote. 


  • 1/2 lb. each of veal, beef and pork
  • 1/2 cup of bread crumbs
  • 1/3 cup tomato sauce (for pasta)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup Romano cheese
  • Spices: salt, pepper, basil, parsley, garlic to taste


  • Mix veal, pork, eggs and spices together along with 1/2 cup of Romano cheese. Add breadcrumbs, remaining cheese and tomato sauce. Mix well. Roll into balls and fry in hot oil until brown all over. Drop into tomato sauce (aka the sug). 

Aunt Grace's Christmas Fruit Cake

Submitted by Stephen Biffis

"This Christmas cake was my mother's Christmas present every year from Aunt Grace. As kids we couldn't wait for it to come because we thought it was like eating candy. The funny thing is that Aunt Grace's kids couldn't stand it and we were more than happy each year when it came to our house," wrote Stephen.


  • 1 lb. package and 1 x 7 oz. package of dates (3 1/2 cups cut into halves)
  • 1 lb. candied pineapple
  • 1 lb. candied cherries
  • 1 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 lb. pecans


  • Mix all ingredients together. You will have enough mixture for 2 loaf pans. Bake in 275° oven for 1 1/2 hours. Top will look dry when done. 

To hear more about Grace Bagnato and her legacy, click on Listen at the top of this article or click here to read more about her. 

This documentary was produced by Veronica Simmonds.


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