Posts Tagged ‘spaghetti’

There’s something magical about a simple plate of spaghetti and meatballs. When my parents took me to an Italian restaurant as a child, a plate of spaghetti and meatballs made me feel like the luckiest kid on the planet. And even now, when I prepare a plate of spaghetti and meatballs for my daughter, she can’t wait to sit down at the dinner table. She’s so busy shoveling the food into her mouth, she can’t even speak. I just get a quick thumbs-up between bites…and breaths!

 

meatballs

 

Great meatballs start with great meat. I always use 80/20 grass-fed beef. I don’t use a ton of breadcrumbs as filler. And the tomato sauce is homemade as well, from canned tomatoes. I start with the sauce…

 

B.F.I.M. SAUCE

Inspired by a lovely but large Italian lady I once knew, my Big Fat Italian Mama sauce works well with this hearty dish.

 

 

1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, through a press
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
10 cups ground and peeled tomatoes…or 3 cans (28 oz.) tomatoes pureed in food processor
2 teaspoons each: dried oregano, basil and parsley
3/4 teaspoon each anise seed and fennel seed
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 bay leaves
1 small can (6 oz.) tomato paste
1 teaspoon sugar (optional)

 

Heat the olive oil in a large pot and add the onions. Cook until the onions are translucent, then add the garlic. Stir for 10 seconds.

Add the tomatoes and cook on high until the orange foam disappears, stirring frequently. Don’t let it burn.

Add the oregano, basil, parsley, anise seed, fennel seed, salt and pepper, bay leaves and tomato paste. Allow the sauce to just come to a boil so that the tomato paste reaches optimum thickening power.

Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for at least an hour, until the sauce reaches the desired consistency. Stir often.

 

While the sauce is cooking, I start the meatballs…

 

 

2 lbs. grass-fed ground beef
1 cup plain breadcrumbs (gluten-free breadcrumbs work well, too)
2 tablespoons dried parsley
2 tablespoons dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 tablespoon granulated garlic
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons salt
2 eggs, cracked and scrambled
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Mix all the ingredients, except the olive oil, thoroughly but gently in a large bowl. Don’t overwork it.

Pour some olive oil a medium-hot pan (don’t let it burn), make the meatballs, and sear them on all sides until brown.

When the meatballs are nice and brown, place them into the pot of sauce, making sure they are covered. Pour all the little bits and the olive oil from the pan into the sauce as well! Great flavor there.

Cover the pot and cook the meatballs in the sauce on low for a few hours.

Serve the meatballs and sauce over your favorite pasta, and sprinkle with freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano.

 

Making this dish gluten-free is easy: use gluten-free pasta (we love the products from Garofalo) and use GF breadcrumbs in the meatballs. I prefer to buy gluten-free loaves of bread, toasting them, letting the slices cool, then tossing them in a food processor to make breadcrumbs. The flavor is as good as regular breadcrumbs!

 

I always thought that spaghetti squash was a sort of “gimmick” vegetable. But once I roasted it, I realized just how delicious it could be. And I hit the “squash lottery” the other day, when my friend, Karen, stopped by with a bunch of beautiful spaghetti squash straight from her and her husband, Bill’s, garden. It was time to cook!

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Cooking them is easy. I wash them, cut them in half, and remove the seeds and membrane stuff with a spoon. I flip them onto their backs, skin side down, and drizzle some extra virgin olive oil on them. A little sea salt and pepper, and then I flip them back down, skin side up, on a sheet pan lined with non-stick aluminum foil. Into a pre-heated 350 degree oven for 30–40 minutes. When they’re soft to the touch, I remove the sheet pan from the oven, flip them back over again, and let them cool to room temperature. Then I simply scrape out the flesh with a fork, and it comes out in strands, like spaghetti.

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While the squash roasts in the oven, I make the meatballs…

 

1 lb. ground grass-fed beef
1 lb. pastured ground veal (substitute ground beef if you can’t get this)
1 cup breadcrumbs (I use gluten-free)
2 eggs, cracked and scrambled
2 tablespoons dried parsley
2 tablespoons dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 tablespoon granulated garlic
1 tablespoon granulated onion
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons salt

Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl and form into meatballs. Place them in a hot pan with 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil. Cook until the meatballs are browned on all sides.

 

 

 

And you need homemade sauce…

2 cans (28 oz.) of tomatoes, pureed
olive oil
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds

In a large pot, saute the onions in a little olive oil until translucent. Add the pureed tomatoes and cook at medium heat until the foam disappears.

Add all the herbs and spices and mix well. Continue cooking on medium heat, lowering to a simmer if the sauce seems to be boiling too hard.

Add the meatballs to the sauce when the meatballs have been browned on all sides. Pour the entire contents of the meatball pan, including the olive oil and fat, into the tomato sauce pot.

Make sure all the meatballs are covered with the sauce. Place a lid on the pot, and simmer for at least an hour, until the meatballs are cooked all the way through.

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Scrape the spaghetti squash with a spoon and place a mound of it in the center of the serving dish. Top it with the meatballs and sauce. Grate some Parmigiano-Reggiano over the top, or do what I did this time, and cut a slab of mozzarella di bufala into small cubes and toss on top. A little sprinkle of oregano and olive oil for good measure on top.

 

I always thought that spaghetti squash was a sort of “gimmick” vegetable. Who really ate this thing? I mean, if I wanted squash, I’d just buy a zucchini, chop it up and cook it. Why do I need a food that resembles another food I like?

Well, the answer to that question came to me when I could no longer eat the other food: pasta, because I was on a low-carb, no-carb diet. I was making meatballs and I was craving pasta. So I grabbed a couple of spaghetti squash at the store.

Cooking them certainly was easy. I washed them, cut them in half, and removed the seeds and membrane stuff with a spoon. I flipped them onto their backs, skin side down, and drizzled some extra virgin olive oil on them. A little sea salt and pepper, and then I flipped them back down, skin side up, on a sheet pan lined with non-stick aluminum foil. Into a pre-heated 350 degree oven for 30–40 minutes. When they were soft to the touch, I removed the sheet pan from the oven, flipped them back over again, and let them cool to room temperature. Then I simply spooned out the flesh, and it came out in strands, like spaghetti.

image

While the squash roasted in the oven, I made the meatballs. My wife is on a gluten-free diet, so I used gluten-free bread crumbs. The carb count of GF bread crumbs is about the same as regular bread crumbs, around 75 carbs per cup. I used 1 cup to make 25 meatballs, so they had about 3 carbs a piece. Not super low carb, but not awful.

Here’s how it went down…

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For the balls…

1 lb. pastured ground veal
1 lb. ground grass-fed beef
1 cup GF breadcrumbs
2 eggs, cracked and scrambled

2 tablespoons dried parsley

2 tablespoons dried oregano

1 tablespoon dried basil

1 tablespoon granulated garlic

1 tablespoon granulated onion

1 teaspoon black pepper

2 teaspoons salt

 

Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl and form into meatballs. Place them in a hot pan with 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil. Cook until the meatballs are browned on all sides.

 

For the sauce…

2 cans (28 oz.) of tomatoes, pureed

olive oil

1/2 onion, finely chopped

1 tablespoon dried parsley

1 tablespoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon dried basil

1 teaspoon granulated garlic

2 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds

1/2 teaspoon anise seeds

 

In a large pot, saute the onions in a little olive oil until translucent. Add the pureed tomatoes and cook at medium heat until the foam disappears.

Add all the herbs and spices and mix well. Continue cooking on medium heat, lowering to a simmer if the sauce seems to be boiling too hard.

Add the meatballs to the sauce when the meatballs have been browned on all sides. Pour the entire contents of the meatball pan, including the olive oil and fat, into the tomato sauce pot.

Make sure all the meatballs are covered with the sauce. Place a lid on the pot, and simmer for at least an hour, until the meatballs are cooked all the way through.

image

To serve:

Scrape the spaghetti squash with a spoon and place a mound of it in the center of the serving dish. Top it with the meatballs and sauce. Grate some Parmigiano-Reggiano over the top, or do what I did this time, and cut a slab of mozzarella di bufala into small cubes and toss on top. A little sprinkle of oregano and olive oil for good measure on top.

 

There’s something magical about a simple plate of spaghetti and meatballs. When my parents took me to an Italian restaurant as a child, a plate of spaghetti and meatballs made me feel like the luckiest kid on the planet. And even now, when I prepare a plate of spaghetti and meatballs for my 7-year-old daughter, she can’t wait to sit down at the dinner table. She’s so busy shoveling the food into her mouth, she can’t even speak. I just get a quick thumbs-up between bites! meatballs

 

Great meatballs start with great meat. I always use 80/20 grass-fed beef. I don’t use a ton of breadcrumbs as filler. And the tomato sauce is homemade as well, from canned tomatoes. I start with the sauce…

 

B.F.I.M. SAUCE

Inspired by a lovely but large Italian lady I once knew, my Big Fat Italian Mama sauce is the best tasting sauce I’ve had anywhere.

 

Ingredients:

1 medium onion, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, through a press

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

10 cups ground and peeled tomatoes…or 3 cans (28 oz.) tomatoes pureed in food processor

2 teaspoons each: dried oregano, basil and parsley

3/4 teaspoon each anise seed and fennel seed

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

2 bay leaves

1 small can (6 oz.) tomato paste

1 teaspoon sugar (optional)

 

Heat olive oil in a large pot and add the onions. Cook until onions are translucent, then add the garlic. Stir for 10 seconds.

Add tomatoes and cook on high until orange foam disappears, stirring frequently. Don’t let it burn.

Add oregano, basil, parsley, anise seed, fennel seed, salt and pepper, bay leaves and tomato paste. Allow sauce to just come to a boil so that the tomato paste reaches optimum thickening power.

Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for at least an hour, until sauce reaches desired thickness. Stir often.

 

While the sauce is cooking, I start the meatballs…

 

THE BALLS

 

Ingredients:

2 lbs grass-fed ground beef

1 cup plain breadcrumbs (homemade are best)

2 tablespoons dried parsley

2 tablespoons dried oregano

1 tablespoon dried basil

1 tablespoon granulated garlic

1 tablespoon onion powder

1 teaspoon black pepper

2 teaspoons salt

2 eggs, cracked and scrambled

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

 

Mix all the ingredients, except the olive oil, thoroughly but gently in a large bowl. Don’t overwork it.

Pour olive oil a medium-hot pan (don’t let it burn), make the meatballs, and sear them on all sides until brown.

When the meatballs are nice and brown, place them into the pot of sauce, making sure they are covered. Pour all the little bits and the olive oil from the pan into the sauce as well! Great flavor there.

Cover the pot and cook the meatballs in the sauce on low for a few hours. Pour over pasta, and sprinkle with freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano.