On weekends, I like to go back to my southern Italian roots. For example, today I was craving a good dish of pasta with traditional tomato sauce and meatballs.
Yes, you have to make the tomato sauce from scratch, prepare the meatballs separately and then combine the two together. But no worries – the recipe is fast, neat and healthy. I broil the meatballs instead of frying them.
The best part is that leftover meatballs and sauce keep up to 5 days, refrigerated. Buon Appetito!
Tomato Sauce Prep time: 20 minutes (while meatballs are broiling)
Meatball Prep time: 25 minutes
Serves: 4 to 6
Tomato Sauce Ingredients:
1/4 cup olive oil
1 medium brown or white onion, peeled and finely chopped
One 28-ounce can Muir Glen Organic® Whole Peeled Tomatoes
Dash freshly-grated nutmeg
2 bay leaves (optional)
Salt, to taste (start with 1 teaspoon)
Directions for Tomato Sauce:
1. In a 4-quart saucepot, heat the oil. When oil is hot but does not smoke, add the chopped onion.
2. Stir-fry the onion on medium-high heat for about 2 to 3 minutes or until onion is translucent.
3. Meanwhile, in a blender, purée the tomatoes.
4. When onion is translucent, stir in the puréed tomatoes.
5. Add the nutmeg (just a dash), the bay leaves and 1 teaspoon salt.
6. Bring the tomato sauce to a boil.
7. When tomato sauce boils, immediately set heat on medium-low and cook/simmer for approximately 15 minutes. During this time, you can start the meatballs (see below).
8. As the sauce cooks, stir occasionally.
9. After 15 minutes, taste the sauce. It should no longer taste raw. Adjust salt level, if needed.
1 to 1-1/2 pounds lean ground beef or dark ground turkey (organic, preferred)
1 small brown or white onion, finely chopped in a food processor
1/3 cup finely chopped, fresh Italian parsley leaves
1 to 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
Dash ground black pepper
Dash freshly-ground nutmeg (a tiny amount)
1 to 2 large eggs, beaten
1. Using plastic cooks’ gloves or your bare hands, in a 5 to 6-quart glass or porcelain bowl, mix together all ingredients.
2. Set meat mixture aside and wash your hands very well (if you do not use gloves).
3. Prepare an 18 X 12-inch baking sheet by lining it with aluminum foil. Oil the foil with a basting brush or with your hand. Set baking sheet aside.
4. Set a 2-cup bowl of cold water on counter. Dip your hands in the water so they are wet (this will prevent the meat from sticking to your hands).
5. Grab enough meat mixture to form a 2-1/2-inch ball and set it on oiled, lined baking sheet.
6. Repeat shaping the meatballs, wetting your hands in between every 2 to 3 meatballs. Continue this procedure until you have set all meatballs on baking sheet, spaced 1 inch apart.
Broil the Meatballs & Add them to Tomato Sauce:
1. Set the top oven element to “broil” – make sure the top oven rack is set 6 to 7 inches below the broiling element.
2. Place the baking sheet with meatballs on the oven rack; broil the meatballs for approximately 8 to 9 minutes or until they look golden brown.
3. When meatballs have turned golden brown, using tongs, turn them over and broil the other side for 8 to 9 minutes.
4. When the meatballs have turned golden brown, take one at a time with tongs and gently drop it in simmering tomato sauce.
5. At this point, simmer the sauce with meatballs for an additional 10 minutes.
Ingredients for the Pappardelle:
1 pound pappardelle or other pasta variety
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
2/3 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano or Pecorino Romano cheese (garnish)
Directions for Pappardalle:
1. Bring a 6-quart sauce pot of water to a boil.
2. When water boils, add the pappardelle and salt to the water.
3. Cook pappardelle for 9 to 10 minutes or until it is “al dente” (crunchy-tender).
4. Drain the pappardelle in a colander.
5. Return the pappardelle to the sauce pot and add 3 to 4 ladles of tomato sauce. Stir with tongs.
6. Divide the pappardelle among 4 to 6 pasta bowls or dinner plates.
7. Add 1 or 2 meatballs to each serving.
8. Serve immediately and ask guests to add a sprinkle of cheese, if desired.
Wine Pairing: Chianti, Cabernet Sauvignon (reds) or chilled Chardonnay (white)
Text and Photograph ©2016 Nancy DeLucia Real