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Scrumptious Spaghetti and Meatballs

Sharing my first recipe is exciting and nerve wracking all at the same time. I was trying to think of the ideal recipe that would provide not only a great meal, but show you a bit of myself! And I came up with the perfect idea: my spaghetti and meatballs. Down home and simple, but always satisfying. This homemade sauce paired with my meatballs is a succulent, scrumptious, and superb way to fulfill all those cravings for authentic Italian food.

I have always been passionate about my pasta sauce, and one thing I love is that it does not need to cook for hours to be delicious and flavorful.  One of my best friend’s Beth’s favorite things is my sauce, and hanging out with her while chatting over a bowl of pasta and sauce is one of MY favorite things. Cooking for friends and family is special to me, and this recipe feels like a bowl of love, even before adding a few delicious meatballs to the top! I am thrilled to share this bowl of love with you.

While it may look like a lot of components, the meatballs and the sauce share many of the same ingredients. My suggestion is eyeballing and chopping the onions, garlic, basil, and parsley for both the sauce and the meatballs at the same time, so that you only have to chop once!

Also, when most think of sauce, they think of the pot on the stove cooked all day. That sauce is always delicious, and this sauce is a quicker version with some of the same flavors. I have a special ingredient that I use that gives it the “cooked all day” taste without the commitment.

Spaghetti and Meatballs

Makes about 6-8 servings

Time: About 45 minutes

Meatballs:
1 lb. ground beef
1lb beef, veal, pork mix
1 egg
1 slice of bread, soaked in about 1/3 cup milk
¼ cup panko
2 tbsps. garlic, minced
¼ cup raw onion, finely chopped or minced
1 tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
1 tbsp. fresh basil, chopped
½ tsp. dried oregano
1/8 tsp. crushed red pepper
¼ tsp. garlic powder
¼ tsp. pepper
½ tsp. salt
2 tbsps. freshly grated parmesan (NOT shredded, finely grated)
Sauce:
2 tbsps. olive oil
1 ½ tbs. butter
2 tbsps. minced garlic
½ cup onion, finely chopped
2 28oz cans of San Marzano tomatoes
3 tsp basil, chopped
1 tsp parsley, chopped
¼ tsp crushed red pepper (more if you like it spicier, I like a hint of heat)
½ tsp dried oregano
2 tsp garlic powder
¼ tsp bullion powder, chicken flavor
1/2 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper
1 tbsp. agave syrup
Splash of balsamic vinegar
Splash of red wine vinegar
1 pound dried Spaghetti, or a pasta of your choice

Meatballs:

1.

Preheat oven to 400°

2.

Mix all meatball ingredients in a bowl, making sure to mix well so that all ingredients mix evenly.

Some say do not overmix the meatball mixture, because the meatballs get tough. I have never personally had this issue, but if it is something you are worried about, you can mix all the ingredients besides the meat in the bowl first. This makes a flavor packed mixture that will equally distribute all the seasoning through the meat when you add it. Then just add the meat and mix!

3.

Lightly oil the bottom of a 9×13 pan. Scoop and roll meat mixture into balls, and place them into the pan. I use an ice cream scoop because we like larger meatballs in my family.

You can make the meatballs to the size of your preference, and you can even make mini meatballs using a melon baller! Just be aware the size will change the cooking time a bit.

4.

Place on middle rack on oven, and bake for 25-30 minutes. The meatballs should be fully cooked, since this is not an “all day” sauce, I want the meatballs completely cooked before adding them to the sauce.

At this point, while the meatballs are baking, you can whip up this delicious sauce! Lucky for you, some of the ingredients are already prepared from making the meatballs!

Sauce:

1.

Add olive oil and butter to a large stock pot. (butter for flavor, olive oil for cooking temperature). Heat on medium high heat and add onions. Sauté for 2-3 minutes until the onions have slightly softened. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Sprinkle in a pinch of salt and pepper.

Be sure to not brown or burn the garlic, as it will have a bitter taste.

2.

Add the 2-28oz cans of San Marzano Tomatoes. The ones I buy from my grocery store are whole canned tomatoes, so I get down and dirty and crush the whole tomato over the pot with my hands. They will break up in the cooking process, but this helps them along.

You can use plain canned tomatoes, using San Marzano tomatoes makes a WORLD of difference, I Promise you!

3.

Add the Bullion powder, and then add salt and pepper to taste. With this amount of sauce, for me that is about 1 tsp salt and ½ tsp pepper. Let the mixture cook for about 10 minutes

The Bullion powder may seem like a weird ingredient, but it gives the sauce that “cooked all day” flavor that I was talking about earlier, and that is perfect for this recipe!

4.

Add the agave, and the splash of balsamic and red wine vinegars. Cook this on medium-medium high heat for about 5-6 minutes.

While tomatoes are both acidic and sweet, the cooking process can change those flavors. I find that it really packs a punch when I add sweet/acidic with other ingredients. Therefore, I add the agave. You could substitute white sugar, but agave nectar has a roasted flavor that plays well with the tomatoes. Adding the two vinegars does not necessarily add a “Vinegar” flavor to the sauce, but adds a different type of acidity and ramps up the flavor of the other ingredients without being overpowering.

5.

Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper accordingly. Also, since I like a smooth sauce, at this point I use my stick blender to completely puree the sauce, and create a very velvety texture. If you like a chunky sauce, you can skip the blending.

This is where both delicious parts come together! The meatballs should be just about done, and  therefore are ready to take a dip in the most scrumptious pool!

6.

Pull the meatballs from the oven and add them directly to the sauce.  Add the last 1 tablespoon of basil and let the sauce and meatballs cook and meld together while you cook the pasta.

Do not dump them in because you do not want all the fat from the pan. Use tongs to put the meatballs in the sauce.

7.

Cook pasta according to directions on package.

You can use any types of pasta (I like spaghetti) and use either dry or fresh pasta. I personally love dried pasta because I like the texture of dry pasta better when eating a red sauce. So… you guessed it, I am using dried spaghetti! And remember my belief, dry pasta should be cooked al dente… ALWAYS.

8.

Drain pasta, return to the pot. Add a few spoonful’s of sauce to coat the noodles and serve!

When serving, make a bed of pasta, top with 2-3 meatballs and a healthy spoonful of sauce.

Whether you like it topped with parmesean cheese ( like my husband) or like it as is and unadultered(like me), I hope you will enjoy this hot and hearty meal of spaghetti and meatballs that is sure to warm more than your belly!

Spaghetti and Meatballs

 

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