Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Spaghetti with Meatballs

There's nothing like a big bowl of spaghetti and meatballs. Everyone loves it, it is quick and easy to make, and there are so many ways to mix it up that it never gets boring. I can pretty much eat pasta any way, but I admit that I'm kind of picky when it comes to meatballs. I can't stand the dense, flavorless meatballs that you get in restaurants. I prefer light, moist meatballs that are packed with fresh herbs and parmesan. These meatballs fit that perfectly. And they are so quick and easy to make. They can be prepared and baked in the time it takes to heat up this simple tomato sauce (or your favorite jar of marinara). 

Spaghetti with Meatballs
Servings: 4 to 6

1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 small yellow onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/8 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1 - 28 oz. can whole San Marzano tomatoes
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 1/2 tbsp. fresh basil, chopped
Salt and pepper

1 small yellow onion, grated
1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf (Italian) parsley, chopped
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
2/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup dried Italian-style bread crumbs
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 tbsp. ketchup
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 lb. ground beef

1 lb. spaghetti or other long pasta*
Additional basil, parsley, and parmesan for topping

To prepare the sauce, in a medium saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, season with salt and pepper, and cook until softened. Add the garlic and crushed red pepper; cook for an additional minute. Add the tomatoes, oregano, and basil. Simmer for 30 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened. (The tomatoes will break down on their own, but they can also be mashed with the back of a wooden spoon for a thinner sauce.) Season with salt and pepper to taste.

To prepare the meatballs, preheat the oven to 400° and position an oven rack in the lower third of the oven. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, mix the onion, herbs, Parmesan, bread crumbs, egg, ketchup, garlic, crushed red pepper, salt, and pepper together until well combined. Gently mix in the beef, using your hands, just until combined. Do not over mix. Shape the meat mixture into ~20 meatballs. (Note: The meatballs can be prepared up until this point and refrigerated until ready to bake.) Place on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes, or until cooked through.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a large pot of salted water according to the package directions. Drain, reserving some of the cooking liquid. Toss the pasta with the sauce, adding some of the cooking liquid to thin out the sauce if needed. Add the meatballs. Garnish with additional parsley, basil, and parmesan, if desired. 

*If you like a lot of sauce with your spaghetti and meatballs, then cook 12 oz. of pasta. 

Source: sauce - A Much Kneaded original, meatballs - adapted from Giada at Home

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