Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Delicious Homemade Spaghetti and Meatballs

      "When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie....that's Amore!!!"

     This is not your Grandmother's spaghetti and meatball recipe! This starts with a slightly spicy tomato and basil marinara made from scratch. That is then doused over big, hearty meatballs made from ground sirloin, Italian sausage, fresh parsley and parmigiano reggiano cheese among other yummy things, which is then smothered with freshly grated mozzarella and topped with a shower of basil leaves and more parmigiano reggiano before being baked off until hot and bubbly!  Is your mouth watering yet?

     Of course this recipe stems from non other than one of the "Ultimates" from Tyler -the most amazing chef- Florence.  I am a big fan of his, and he made me a big fan of meatballs!  I didn't even like them before this recipe! These are juicy and packed with so much flavor. They pair perfectly with this marinara sauce that is a recipe that I came up with, and we love it!!  I use this for just about everything Italian...pasta primavera, chicken parmesean or just plain with pasta.  The sauce is made from scratch and you can tell a difference in the taste from this and a jarred kind.  I think the dash of olive oil while it simmers makes it so rich and delicious, along with fresh basil.  (I really need a basil plant for as much as I like it.)  My husband loves it so much, there are times that he actually craves it!  So being paired with these incredible meatballs, you have a home cooked meal that's dressed to impress without being fussy.

     It's pretty simple to make, even though there are a few steps. I like to prepare the meatballs ahead of time and have them in the fridge ready to cook when the guests are about to arrive.  Also, I have made the sauce the morning of and put it in a crock pot on low until dinner is ready.  Doing that actually intensifies all the flavors in the meatballs and sauce even more.  I just made this a couple of nights ago when some good friends of ours came over for dinner and a movie.  The spaghetti and meatballs were a huge hit, although I made way too much!  I tend to do that--cook about 3 times as much as I need.  Good thing we love leftovers!

     These spaghetti and meatballs are truly comfort food that will make you feel good! So, make a fresh Caesar salad and toast some bread to dip in olive oil and try this to change up your same ole spaghetti routine for Sunday's dinner!

Hearty Homemade Spaghetti and Meatballs

kosher salt

extra virgin olive oil

1 onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, chopped (I used pre-minced)

2 tbsp. finely chopped fresh italian parsley

1 c. milk

4 slices firm, white bread, crusts removed, cut into cubes
(this time I used 2 cups of dry bread crumbs instead and loved it)

1 1/2 lb. ground sirloin

1 1/2 lb. mild italian sausage

1 egg

1/2 c. freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for serving

Freshly ground black pepper

Homemade Marinara (recipe follows) or good quality jarred tomato sauce

1/2 lb. mozzarella cheese, grated

basil leaves

1 lb. spaghetti

Bring a big pot of salted water to a boil for the spaghetti.

Heat 3 Tbsp. of oil in an ovenproof skillet over medium heat.  Add the onion and allow soften for a few minutes.  Add the garlic cook for a couple more minutes.  About 10 minutes all together.  Take pan off heat and let cool.

Pour Milk over the bread in a bowl and let soak while veggies are cooking.  If using dried bread crumbs, do the same thing.  Combine meats in a large bowl. Squeeze out excess milk from bread crumbs. Add egg and moistened bread crumbs and season generously with salt and pepper.  Add cheese, parsley and onion mixture and mix well.  Your hands are the best tools here!  Shape into about 20-25  meatballs.  I think I made about 25, and froze just a few for a later time.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Heat a "3 count" of oil in the skillet over medium heat, and brown meatball on all sides, about 10 minutes.  I like using a cast iron skillet for this.  Transfer them to a baking dish and spoon about half the sauce over.  Shower the mozzarella and scatter about half of the basil leaves on top.  Drizzle with olive oil.  Put meatballs in the oven and bake, about 28-30 minutes. Serve atop spaghetti with homemade marinara and more basil leaves for garnish. 
Serves 6-8

Homemade Tomato and Basil Marinara

2-28 oz. cans crushed tomatoes

1-28 oz. can diced tomatoes, drained

1 small can tomato paste (didn't use this time, and wish I did)

1 onion, diced

2-3 cloves minced garlic

15-20 basil leaves

1 tsp. crushed red pepper

1 1/2 tsp. tsp. dried italian seasonings

1 tsp. sugar

salt and freshly cracked black pepper

In a large saucepan, heat olive oil.  Add onion and cook until softened.  Add garlic and red pepper and cook a couple more minutes.  Carefully add the crushed and diced tomatoes.  Stir in tomato paste.  Add sugar, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper and fresh basil leaves.  

Taste and adjust seasoning.  Add about 2 Tbsp. olive oil for an incredibly wonderful, rich and flavorful sauce. Bring to a soft boil for about 5 minutes, and reduce heat and let simmer for at least 30 minutes -- the longer the better. If using, transfer to the crock pot after letting the sauce simmer for just a few minutes.  Turn crock pot on low and cook until ready to use.  Pour in drained pasta and stir together before plating with meatballs.

I'm linking up with Savvy Southern Style


faithecooper said...

YUM!!! This definitely has a spot in my recipe book!

Leslie said...

Oh, good Faith! I know you'd love it, too!

Jane@Cottage at the Crossroads said...

Hello! I found your blog on SSS. I have a recipe linked there too-rosemary rolls. Tyler Florence is a favorite of mine also. My husband once introduced him on stage at the Southern Living Cooking Contest when it was held in Charleston, SC one year. I love to cook spaghetti but I usually don't do meatballs, but I think I will now. Come visit me and follow me as well.

elizabeth said...

Spaghetti and meatballs is my favorite food. YUMMMM!
So glad to have you as my newest blog follower! Welcome!