Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Spaghetti and Meatballs
Last night, I made spaghetti and meatballs for dinner. Since I'm out of work at around 6, and Wright doesn't get out until 8 or 9 if he's lucky, it's been a lot of fun to take the time to make quality homemade meals for dinner recently (especially now that its warm enough to walk down to Whole Foods). Plus, Wright and his roommate Mike generally think anything I make them is great, so it's nice to know I'll be getting complimented no matter what disasters occur!
After I shot down Wright's meatloaf idea (I'm 23, I'm not making meatloaf) for our meal, I decided to compromise by making spaghetti with meatballs. Boring, perhaps, if I didn't have three hours to kill/cook. But with the time on my hands, I decided I'd make everything (minus the pasta - not enough counter space) from scratch. I also put a salad on the menu, being the typical girl I am. I went to Whole foods straight from work, spent under $15 for a meal for three (with leftovers!), and the food was delicious. Timely, yes, but very, very simple. Below, the haphazard recipes, written by moi and therefore probably confusing. Just ask if you have any questions.
- 1 28 oz. can whole peeled San Marzano tomatoes
- 2 carrots (at WF they have a "loose carrots" bin - clutch)
- 3 onions (I like Vidalia - they are sweet)
- 1 lb. fettuccine (one box)
- 3/4 lb. ground beef
- arugula (enough for side salads for everyone)
Other ingredients I had on hand (but you may not):
- garlic (need about 3 big cloves)
- bread crumbs (need about two cups)
- one egg
- olive oil
- salt, pepper
- chicken stock (about 1 cup)
Get going on the sauce right away, because you want it to cook down as long as possible (it was about 2 hours in my case). Dice two of the onions. Heat a large pot on the stove at about medium, add about a tablespoon of olive oil, and once it gets hot, add the onions. Add a handful of salt and let them sweat, oh I'd say about 5-10 minutes, until they are translucent and soft and juicy. While they are sauteing (and you are occasionally stirring) peel and dice the two carrots and two garlic cloves, then add them to the pot. Stir around and let cook until the veggies are soft. Add some pepper. Then, open up the can of tomatoes and put them in the pot. Add the chicken stock to make it more liquid-y, then bring to a boil. Then, bring the heat down to low and let the sauce simmer and cook down, it will start to thicken up eventually. Keep taste-testing and add any spices you wish - I threw some paprika in there, and more pepper. You'll probably want to heave in salt and pepper at the end to really fill it out. Also, I like a sweet tomato sauce, so if you want it more rustic, head towards spices like oregano.
Make your meatballs about 45 minutes before eating. Preheat oven to 350. Dice your third onion (smaller dices this time) and your garlic and put them in a mixing bowl. Add to the bowl the ground meat, about 1/2 cup breadcrumbs, the egg, and some freshly grated Parmesan. Mix with your hands to incorporate everything together. Add more breadcrumbs if they feel too goopy. Pour the rest of the breadcrumbs in a separate bowl. Make even sized meatballs out of the meat, roll them in the breadcrumbs, and place them on a baking dish. I think we had almost 20 meatballs total. Whenever you are 20 minutes away from eating, put the meatballs in the oven and cook for 20 minutes, or until cooked through, might be more like 25 depending on your oven and the size of the meatballs.
Ten or fifteen minutes before eating, get the pasta going (the usual boiling water routine). Cook the whole box. To make a simple vinaigrette for the salad, put 1 tablespoon of balsamic in the salad bowl. Add salt and pepper, as well as 1/2 tablespoon of mustard. Usually I use Dijon, but last night I used a whole grain for fun. Whisk together, then slowly pour in about 2 tablespoons of olive oil, as you are whisking, so that everything incorporates. Taste, and add more of anything necessary. Then throw the arugula in the bowl and toss. I'm a big fan of really simple salads.
When you're finally ready (well, when the pasta is about ready), go ahead and hit the sauce with a little immersion blending. Unnecessary step if you don't mind a chunkier sauce, but I did like a half-blend, so that it was smoother, but still fairly rustic. Drain the pasta and put it back in the bowl. Add the sauce (we added all of it, maybe this is too much sauce for you though). Remove meatballs from oven. Serve pasta with meatballs on top, salad on side, while watching Gossip Girl. Monday night perfection!