I have to admit that I’m cheating a little bit here. Spaghetti and meatballs is such a staple in this household already. That said, it’s such a staple – nearly once a week there’s spaghetti at home – that not a lot of thought goes into cooking it. There’s ready-made sauce available, so it’s a matter of heating it and possibly adding some meat into it, as ground beef or, Filipino-style, hotdog bits. And of course, lots of cheese. I just feel like it’s become bland food when it has the potential to be hearty, healthy, and oh so delicious with just a little extra effort and ingredients.
Let me start with the meatballs. While the basic meatball recipe calls for ground beef, others suggest a combination of pork and veal, or lean ground turkey if you want it healthier, ground sirloin if you want it fancier, or pork sausages that’s been removed from their casings and molded into round shapes. I prefer a mixture of lean ground and ground pork to give it more flavor. The seasoning is equally important. Typically there’s breadcrumbs (or crackers, a la Jamie Oliver), egg, herbs and cheese. I would add shredded or finely chopped onions and carrots, perhaps a little zucchini too if I can get away with it. Chili flakes, if I were making them for grown ups only. These are cooked with a little olive oil; Rachel Ray suggests baking them as an alternative.
The sauce, if made from scratch, calls for chopped or crushed tomatoes (I like to leave chunky tomato bits in the sauce), garlic and onion and olive oil, basil (lots of it), and stock (beef or vegetable). The cooked meatballs then go into the sauce to be simmered. Prepare to have your kitchen smelling so good. If you’ve reached this far you’ve probably seen the spaghetti and meatballs soup picture above, which is really a thinned out sauce using more stock than tomatoes. Mmm, tomato soup. I could live on it and a grilled cheese sandwich. But, I digress…
Top the cooked noodles with the sauce, meatballs, and grated cheese. What you get: a plate of home-cooked goodness, comfort food for some, a happy toddler, satisfied family members.
Are you as excited to try spaghetti and meatballs as I am?