Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Spaghetti & Meatballs

Penne, spaghetti - fuhgeddeaboudit! They both work. But, you'll need spaghetti to recreate the scene in The Lady and the Tramp.

What's more romantic than a big plate of Spaghetti and Meatballs? "You have a funny sense of romance, lady." Go watch The Lady and the Tramp, that Disney classic, and then tell us Spaghetti and Meatballs isn't romantic. We used a couple of different recipes (including my mom's that I've been eating most of my life) and took the best parts, streamlined them a bit so it's do-able on a weeknight, and voila! You have a romantic meal that's easy to pull off in about an hour, where half the time is enjoying the smell of the sauce simmering away on the stovetop.

Put some Frank Sinatra on, open a bottle of red, and you have yourself one heck of a romantic dinner. And the leftovers are every bit as good.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Spaghetti and Meatballs
(6 servings, costs $11.50)


1 pound Lean Ground Meat (beef, chicken, turkey, veal or some combination of them)
1 clove Garlic, minced

½ cup Dry Breads Crumbs

2 large Eggs

¾ teaspoon Salt

¼ teaspoon Black Pepper

¼ cup Grated Parmesan Cheese

2 Tablespoons Fresh Parsley, chopped (about 4 large sprigs)

½ teaspoon Dried Oregano, crushed in your palm

¼ teaspoon Dried Basil, crushed in your palm

¼ cup Milk

¼ cup Flour

3 Tablespoons Olive Oil


28 ounces canned Diced Tomatoes, undrained

16 ounces Tomato Sauce

1 teaspoon Salt

¼ teaspoon Black Pepper

1 teaspoon Dried Basil

¼ teaspoon Dried Thyme

½ teaspoon Dried Oregano

1 Tablespoon Dried Minced Onion (see Note)
2 teaspoons Sugar

1 pound Dried Spaghetti

2 teaspoon Salt for salting the pasta water

Grated Parmesan Cheese, for garnish

Combine all the meatball ingredients in a large bowl. Mix to combine but don't squeeze too much or the meatballs will be dense and tough. Form into meatballs (small or large, whatever size you like). Put the flour on a plate and roll each meatball in the flour.

Heat the olive oil in a large covered skillet over medium-high heat. Place the meatballs in the hot oil and brown on top and bottom. Turn with care to keep them from breaking apart. Remove the meatballs to a plate. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add all the sauce ingredients and stir to combine. Add back the meatballs and any juice that collected on the plate. Cover the skillet and simmer for 30 minutes, reducing the heat further to keep it from boiling too vigorously.

While the sauce is cooking, bring a large pot of water to boil. Add the spaghetti and salt. Cook spaghetti until al dente, about 9 minutes. Drain. To serve, place a portion of spaghetti in a bowl, ladle on some sauce and meatballs (how many depends on how big you made them) and garnish with grated Parmesan cheese.

Like many sauce-y things, the sauce tastes even better if chilled then reheated.

Note: Dried Minced Onion is a great pantry item. Inexpensive and lasts forever. You can add it directly to sauces and over long cooking, it will dissolve into the sauce, imparting a bit of onion flavor without any crunchy bits of onion. It's my go-to onion in slow cooker recipes where you don't want to bother with sautéing the onions before putting them in the slow cooker.

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