Friday, June 3, 2011

Meatballs and Marinara Sauce

2 years ago I studied art for 3 weeks in Italy. In between museums and cathedrals, I made food a priority. :) I remember this one restaurant in Rome where I went with the basic spaghetti and marinara sauce... and I'll tell you what, it was beyond delicious. Off the charts. I just recovered a picture actually:

Let me describe what I loved about this dish. First of all, the pasta was cooked to a la dente perfectly. I don't think I had ever experienced a la dente pasta before, and if I did, I'm sure I just thought it was undercooked. But at that moment in time I realized the beauty and dynamic-ness of "a la dente". I like the "bite" in it because it brings variety and texture to the dish instead of pure MUSH. It makes it interesting. Second, I loved how you could really TASTE the tomatoes in the sauce. This will sound weird, but I could taste the delicious acidity from the tomatoes. You could tell it was legit, real, fresh stuff. yup yup. And third, there were chunks in the sauce. It wasn't like that nasty stuff in a jar that's completely pureed (I know, I use it too sometimes, but it's not nearly as good as the real thing!)
Me at Trevi Fountain :)

So. With all this in mind, I have ever since been inspired to recreate this experience. Last night was a success when I topped this stuff over a whole bunch of whole wheat pasta (still trying to perfect "a la dente"):

OMG sooo good! I was really pleased with how it turned out. I ended up with a lot more meatballs than I needed for how much sauce there was, so I just froze the other meatballs. YUM!

I loved how authentic the marinara tasted.

One day I'll do a post of all the food pictures I have from Italy. I'm already excited for that!

Meatballs and Marinara Sauce

Ingredients for the Sauce:

2 cloves of Garlic

One 28 ounce can of Whole Tomatoes (about 4 cups)

1 1/2 tsp Dried Parsley

1 tsp Dried Oregano

2 tsp Sugar

Salt and Pepper

Fresh basil leaves (optional)

Separate the tomatoes from the liquid, but don't throw the liquid away. In a food processor, puree the tomatoes (without the liquid) and garlic together until there are no whole tomato pieces. Or leave some pieces if you like a chunky sauce. The garlic won't be pureed, that's fine. Transfer the mixture to a sauce pan, add the rest of the ingredients (including the tomato liquid) and simmer on medium low heat for about 20 minutes or until the sauce has thickened to your liking. Stir a few times during the cooking process.

While this cooks, start preparing the meat.

Ingredients for the Meatballs:

1/2 pound Ground Pork

1/2 pound Ground Beef

1 Egg

1/4 tsp Red Pepper Flakes (optional)

1/4 cup Bread Crumbs

1 ounce Fontina Cheese (or any hard cheese, like Parmesan)

Salt and Pepper

1.5 tbsp Olive Oil

In a big bowl scramble the egg, then add the grated cheese. Now add the rest of the ingredients until well combined. Use your hands to combine the ingredients.

Pour the oil into the cooking pan you'll use to cook the meatballs Make sure to cover the bottom entirely. Form the meat mixture into small meatballs and put them directly in the cool pan. Cook for 3 minutes at high heat, the flip them and cook for another 3 minutes, or until dark golden brown.

The sauce should be done by now, so pour it over the meatballs and cover. Cook for another 10 minutes.

While the meatballs finish cooking, boil your favorite pasta in lots of salted water.

Serve the meatballs on top of the pasta. Sprinkle a little cheese and fresh basil on top if you want, and enjoy.

1 comment:

Mark Christensen said...

Dude, this one stays good too. I ate late that night, like 5 hours after it was prepared, and it was still delicious. The next day I had it for dinner, I think it was even better the second time.
If I could eat it for breakfast I would!!