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Geeky Eats: Spaghetti and Meatballs

Spaghetti and meatballs; simple, hearty and delicious.

Spaghetti and meatballs; simple, hearty, and delicious.

This spaghetti sauce has been my go-to red sauce since I learned to make it from watching my Dad. The meatball recipe is one that I came by more recently and have tweaked and modified with the help of my husband until we liked the flavor and consistency.

Sauce Ingredients

1 Medium Onion
1 Green Bell Pepper
1-2 Cloves Garlic, Minced
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 Large Can Diced Tomatoes
1 Small Can Tomato Paste
1+ Tablespoon Parsley
1+ Teaspoon Basil
1+ Teaspoon Oregano

Meatball Ingredients

½ Pound Medium Ground Beef
½ Pound Medium Ground Pork
½ Teaspoon Sea Salt
1 Small Onion (finely chopped)
½ Teaspoon Granulated Garlic or 1 clove Fresh Garlic, Minced
½ Teaspoon Each: Basil, Oregano, Parsley, Marjoram
¾ Teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
1 Dash Hot Sauce
1 ½ Tablespoon Worchestershire Sauce
⅓ Cup Milk
¼ Cup Grated Parmesan or Romano Cheese
¼ Cup Multi-Grain Hot Cereal (uncooked)

I always like to start with the sauce first and then let it simmer while preparing and cooking the meatballs, this gives the flavors time to blend, creating a more flavorful sauce. Dice the onion and bell pepper and sauté them in olive oil over medium heat until they begin to soften. Then add the minced garlic and sauté another minute or so until the garlic is cooked but not brown. Next add the canned tomatoes and tomato paste along with the herbs and reduce the heat to low and let simmer, covered, stirring occasionally. When in season, using fresh tomatoes and herbs adds even more flavor to the sauce and is worth a bit of extra chopping.

Now you could stop there and have a delicious vegetarian red sauce with your pasta, which I often do because I can toss it together with ingredients already on hand. When I plan ahead however, I like to make meatballs to accompany my pasta and sauce; they are absolutely worth the additional effort, and you can make a double batch and freeze half for next time.

Ready to make some meatballs.

Ready to make some meatballs.

Prepare all your ingredients for the meatballs before you start. I have just a few notes regarding the listed ingredients; I highly recommend using medium rather than lean for your meat, as the meatballs dry out more easily without the fat. Also, fresh marjoram is much more flavorful than dried, I grew some for the first time this summer and used it in this recipe and WOW does it make a difference. I highly recommend using fresh marjoram if it is available. Lastly I found that I like the consistency of the meatball better when using uncooked hot cereal (cream of wheat style) as a binder, in place of the more traditional breadcrumb, but you can use either in this recipe.

Meatballs are out of the oven and ready to join the sauce.

Meatballs are out of the oven and ready to join the sauce.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a lipped baking sheet with foil; the meatballs will release some liquid as they bake and the lip will prevent this liquid ending up charred on the bottom of your oven.

Place the meatball ingredients, with the exception of the liquids, in a bowl and gently mix together using your hands. Add in the liquids and continue mixing until evenly blended. Do not mash or over mix the meat as your meatballs will be firm and spongy instead of moist and crumbly. Form the meat mixture into balls, I like to make mine about the size of walnuts, and place about an inch apart on the baking sheet. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the meatballs have browned nicely.

Remove meatballs from the baking sheet and add to sauce, continue to simmer while pasta cooks. You can keep the meatballs separate from the sauce if you have a mix of vegetarians and omnivores. Cook pasta according to directions on package. Plate and garnish with parmesan and herbs if desired. Buon Appetito!

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