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Fresh Market + Geoffrey Zakarian = Awesome Spaghetti and Meatballs

I am always on the lookout for a good deal when it comes to grocery shopping. If I can get a bargain that we can get a few meals out of that is even better and I am willing to drive a little bit if I have to get there. That is why I buy a lot of my meat and produce from Adam’s Farms, which is a good 20 mile drive for me but well worth it. I had also forgotten that we have a Fresh Market that is about the same distance away from here and I always found good stuff when I would go there when visiting my family in North Carolina so I signed up to get their emails and see what kinds of deals they might have. It turns out on Thursdays they do a store special called the Little Big Deal where you get the ingredients for a dinner to feed a family of f our all for the cost of twenty dollars. The run the special every Thursday and this month’s special was a spaghetti and meatballs dinner, where they included a pound of whole wheat pasta, a pound of lean ground sirloin or ground turkey or a beef-free substitute, a jar of tomato sauce, a bag of salad and a family size fruit tub all for twenty dollars. It seemed like a good deal and I had been playing to make a new spaghetti and meatballs recipe I got from Geoffrey Zakarian so I thought I would adapt these ingredients from Fresh Market into the recipe and see what I came out with.

Geoffrey Zakarian’s Spaghetti and Meatballs

5 tablespoons panko breadcrumbs, finely processed

6 ounces heavy cream (as needed to soak the breadcrumbs)

1 tablespoon vegetable or canola oil

1/2 cup diced onions

1 clove garlic, chopped

1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary

8 ounces ground pork

8 ounces sweet pork sausage, no casing

8 ounces ground veal

5 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated, plus more for garnish

1/4 cup finely minced fresh parsley, plus more for garnish

1 egg

Kosher salt

Basic Tomato Sauce recipe, to follow

1 pound spaghetti

Freshly cracked black pepper

For the Basic Tomato Sauce:

2 tablespoons olive oil

4 leaves fresh basil

1 clove garlic, chopped

Pinch red pepper flakes

One 32-ounce can San Marzano tomatoes, drained and processed in a food mill or food processor

Soak the breadcrumbs in the heavy cream in a medium bowl. Heat a large saute pan over medium heat and add the oil. Saute the onions and the garlic until the onions are translucent, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the rosemary, remove the pan from the heat and then chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator, about 30 minutes.

Combine the breadcrumb mixture, the onion mixture, pork, sausage, veal, Parmesan cheese, parsley and the egg in a large bowl. Using an electric mixer on low-speed, mix until all of the ingredients are well incorporated, about 1 to 2 minutes. Alternatively, mix all the ingredients by hand until everything is well incorporated, then add some salt for seasoning.

Heat a small saute pan to cook a sample of the mixture. Taste the mixture for seasoning and make any necessary adjustments. Form the meatballs into the desired size and shape and place them on a wire rack placed inside a rimmed baking sheet. Chill the meatballs for about 1 hour so they have a chance to set.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Bake the meatballs until they are browned, about 20 to 25 minutes. Bring the Basic Tomato Sauce to a simmer in a large pot or Dutch oven. Transfer the meatballs to the pot with the tomato sauce and allow the mixture to simmer until the meatballs are tender and cooked through, about 30 minutes.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Boil the spaghetti until al dente per the package instructions. transfer the cooked spaghetti to the sauce with the meatballs and toss. Add some black pepper, garnish with Parmesan cheese and parsley and serve.

To make the Basic Tomato Sauce, heat a saucepan over medium heat. Add the olive oil, basil, garlic and the red pepper flakes and cook until the garlic begins to soften, about 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes, bring the mixture to a simmer and cook for 1 minute. Use the sauce right away or chill the sauce until you are ready to use it.

Okay, I did make a couple of changes to fit some of the ingredients I had from the Fresh Market. First, for the meatballs I used a mix of meatloaf mix and he ground sirloin I had on hand instead of just pork and veal. For the tomato sauce, I did a mix of making the basic sauce and using the jar of sauce I had purchased, which was an organic tomato and basil sauce, so it all worked out very well. I have to say I was a little concerned about the meatballs because I didn’t think they would have much flavor and it looked like a lot of breadcrumbs in the mix that had set with the heavy cream, but I was pleasantly surprised. the meatballs turned out to be very tender and had great flavor to them. Michelle even commented that she thought they were the best meatballs she had ever had, so that was pretty high praise. We even had enough leftover so we will get another meal or some lunches out of it, so that twenty dollars is going to go pretty far. We served the meal with the salad that came with the deal (it was a Caesar salad and quite tasty) and I had made a baguette so it was a nice meal and the fruit was a great way to top it all off. Both the recipe and the deal from Fresh Market are definitely worth checking out.

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!

gzspaghettiandmeatballs

 
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Posted by on February 27, 2015 in Beef, Cooking, Dinner, Pasta, Pork, Sauce

 

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A Chilly Day Calls for Spaghetti and Meatballs for a Crowd

I know it’s not the ideal start to a long weekend when two days ago it was 85° out and I was looking to turn the air conditioner on and then we wake up this morning and it’s 42° outside and windy and rainy. Since the weekend doesn’t look like it’s going to get any better until Monday, today is a good day to do a recipe for a classic spaghetti and meatballs. This recipe, from Cook’s Illustrated, is designed if you’re cooking for a large crowd so you want to keep that in mind if you are going to use this recipe. When I do it for just the three of us I generally have to adjust it down a little bit and we still end up with enough sauce and meatballs left over where we can freeze some for another several meals.

Classic Spaghetti and Meatballs for a Crowd

Meatballs

2 1/4 cups panko bread crumbs
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 1/2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
3 tablespoons water
2 pounds 85% lean ground beef
1 pound ground pork
3 large eggs
3 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated
6 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Sauce

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, grated
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
3 (28-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes
6 cups tomato juice
6 tablespoons dry white wine
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup minced fresh basil
3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
Sugar

3 pound spaghetti
2 tablespoons salt
Grated Parmesan cheese

For the meatballs: adjust oven racks to the lower-middle and upper-middle positions and heat the oven to 450°. Set wire racks into aluminum foil-lined rimmed baking sheets and spray the racks with vegetable oil spray.

Combine the bread crumbs and the buttermilk in a large bowl and let sit, mashing occasionally with a fork, until a smooth paste forms, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, sprinkle the gelatin over the water in a small bowl and allow it to soften for 5 minutes.

Mix the ground beef, ground pork, eggs, Parmesan, parsley, garlic, salt, pepper, and gelatin mixture into the bread crumb mixture using your hands. Pinch off and roll the mixture into 2-inch meatballs (about 40 meatballs total) and arrange on the prepared baking sheets. Bake until the meatballs are well browned, about 30 minutes, switching and rotating the baking sheets halfway through the baking process.

For the sauce: while the meatballs bake, heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion and cook until softened and lightly browned, about 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the garlic, oregano and pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the crushed tomatoes, tomato juice, wine, 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper, bring to a simmer, and cook until the sauce thickens slightly, about 15 minutes.

Remove the meatballs from the oven and reduce the oven temperature to 300°. Gently nestled the meatballs into the sauce. Cover, transfer to the oven, and cook until the meatballs are firm and the sauce has thickened, about one hour. The sauce in the meatballs can be cooled and refrigerated for up to 2 days. To re-heat, drizzle 1/2 cup of water over the sauce, without stirring, and re-heat on the lower-middle rack of a 325° oven for 1 hour.

Meanwhile, bring 10 quarts of water to a boil in a large 12-quart pot. Add the pasta and salt and cook, stirring often, until al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking water, then drain the pasta and return it to the pot.

Gently stir the basil and parsley into the sauce and season with sugar, salt, and pepper to taste. Add 2 cups of sauce (without meatballs) to the pasta and toss to combine. Add the reserved cooking water as needed to adjust the consistency. Serve, topping the individual portions with more tomato sauce and several meatballs and passing the Parmesan cheese

As I said, this recipe makes a lot of food. They outline it as having enough to serve 12 people, but if you make the full recipe I think it could even serve more than that. I have always gotten more than 40 meatballs out of the recipe so we always have plenty left over for uses down the road. Their recipe also calls for some prosciutto to be used in the meatball mixture, which I leave out. I do like the way that the meatballs come out when they are baked in the oven and then the entire concoction with the sauce is placed in the oven again. The thickness of the sauce and the taste of the meatballs seems to be a lot better to me. You could easily served this with any type of pasta that you wish and I love to make some garlic bread to go along with it.

That’s the recipe for today. We did some shopping this morning so I did get a few things and to make over the next few days or so. Tonight I’ll be making a pork tenderloin dinner so you can check back for the recipe on that one. I also picked up some baby back ribs and the makings for some meatloaf so will be having those this week as well. I do plan to head up to Adams and see if they have anything else interesting that we might use for dinner this week. Check back and see what we come up with. Until then, enjoy the rest of your rainy day and enjoy your meal!

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Posted by on May 25, 2013 in Beef, Cooking, Dinner, Pasta, Sauce

 

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Mother’s Day Dinner, Part 1 – Eggplant Parmesan

Cooking on Mother’s Day is always a special event. I wanted to make sure I made things that Michelle really wanted to have for dinner and that would be good for the guests that we were having for the day. After some back and forth we decided on a few different things to make, but it was mostly going to have an Italian theme to it. I made a few things, so for the first day of the recipes I am going to post the recipe I used for Eggplant Parmesan that I got from the Cook’s Illustrated Cookbook. Actually, a lot of recipes that I used for the Mother’s Day meal came from this cookbook. This one, I think, was my favorite of the day.

Eggplant Parmesan

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon sugar
Salt and pepper
2 pounds eggplant, sliced into one fourth-inch-thick rounds
Kosher salt and pepper
8 slices white sandwich bread, torn into quarters
2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated (1 cup)
1 cup flour
4 large eggs
6 tablespoons vegetable oil
8 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded (2 cups)
1 ounce Parmesan cheese, grated (1/2 cup)
10 fresh basil leaves, roughly torn

For the tomato sauce, heat the oil and garlic in a large saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring often, until the garlic turns golden but not browned, about three minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, basil, oregano, sugar, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and a pinch of salt, bring to a simmer, and cook until the sauce thickens and the flavors meld, about 10 to 12 minutes. Take the sauce off the heat, season with salt to taste and cover to keep warm.

For the eggplant, line a baking sheet with a triple layer of paper towels and set it aside. Toss the eggplant and 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt together in a bowl, then transfer it to a colander. Let it sit until the eggplant releases about 2 tablespoons of liquid, about 30 to 45 minutes. Wipe the excess salt from the eggplant, then arrange it on a prepared baking sheet. Cover the eggplant with another triple layer of paper towels and firmly press each slice to remove as much liquid as possible.

While the eggplant is draining, adjust oven racks to the upper-middle and lower-middle positions, place a rimmed baking sheet on each rack, and heat the oven to 425°. Pulse the bread in a food processor to fine, even crumbs, about 15 pulses. You should have about 4 cups of breadcrumbs when you are done. Transfer the crumbs to a pie plate or shallow dish and stir in the Parmesan cheese and a half teaspoon of pepper; set aside.

Combine the flour and 1 teaspoon of pepper in a large zipper-lock bag and shake to combine. Beat the eggs in a second pie plate or shallow ditch. Place 8 to 10 eggplant slices in the bag with the flour, sealed the bad, and shake to coat the eggplant. Remove the eggplant slices, shaking off any excess flour, then dip in the eggs, letting any excess egg run off. Then coat the eggplant evenly with the bread-from mixture. Set the breaded slices on a wire rack set in a rimmed baking sheet. Repeat the process with the remaining eggplant.

Remove the preheated baking sheets from the oven. Add 3 tablespoons of oil to each sheet, tilting the sheet to coat it evenly with the oil. Place half of the breaded eggplant on each baking sheet and a single layer; bake until the eggplant is well browned and crisp, about 30 minutes, switching and rotating the baking sheets after 10 minutes, and flipping the eggplant slices with a wide spatula after 20 minutes. (Do not turn off the oven.)

To assemble the dish, spread 1 cup of the tomato sauce over the bottom of a 13 x 9-inch baking dish. Layer in half of the eggplant slices, overlapping slices to make sure everything fits. Distribute 1 cup of sauce over the eggplant, then sprinkle with 1 cup of the mozzarella cheese. Layer in the remaining eggplant, then.with 1 cup of sauce, leaving the majority of the eggplant exposed so it will remain crisp. Sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese and the remaining 1 cup of mozzarella. Bake until bubbling and the cheese is browned, 13 to 15 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes, and scattered the basil over the top, and serve, passing the remaining tomato sauce separately.

I had never made eggplant Parmesan before, and the few times that I have had it be eggplant to me comes out to be quite soggy and full of oil. I think a lot of this is because most people just simply fry the eggplant before they put it in the oven. This technique seems to work better to me as salting the eggplant first helps draw out a lot of the moisture out of it, and then the baking process helps to keep it crisp. I actually used Panko breadcrumbs instead of making the breadcrumbs in the food processor as suggested and I think it actually came out better. Only putting a little bit of sauce on the eggplant cook in the dish also seem to help keep it nice and crisp as well. I used the same technique with the chicken Parmesan that we also made for dinner and that seemed to work really well too; you’ll see that recipe posted tomorrow. Everyone seemed to love the eggplant and it disappeared quite quickly, so fast in fact that I never even got a picture of it to take to post on here, so for that I apologize. But I will certainly make this dish again as the recipe proved to be popular even with those who are not big fans of eggplant.

That’s it for today. Time to get back to work. Tomorrow I will post the recipe for the chicken Parmesan that I need it. It is slightly different than the recipe I have posted here in the past and that everyone seemed to really like the way that came out as well so I think you’ll enjoy it. Check back tomorrow and see if you like it. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!

 
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Posted by on May 13, 2013 in Cookbooks, Cooking, Dinner, Holidays, Sauce, Vegetables

 

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Making Good Use of Those Extra Meatballs

Yesterday I made a big try of meatballs so Michelle could use some in her Italian Wedding Soup. Since we still had a lot left to use, we decided to put some in sauce and simmer them and then make some meatball sub sandwiches. Sean opted to have just spaghetti and meatballs, but I made a sub for myself on some garlic bread.

Meatball Sub Sandwiches

For the meatballs:

2 slices of white bread (use good white bread for this)

1/3 cup buttermilk

3/4 pound ground beef

1/4 pound ground  pork

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

1 large egg yolk

1 garlic clove, minced

Salt and pepper

For the sauce:

3 tablespoons olive oil

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes

1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes

3 tablespoons minced fresh basil (if you’re using dried basil, cut this in at least half)

1/4 teaspoon sugar

Salt

For the garlic bread:

1 loaf Italian bread or French bread

4 tablespoons butter, softened (use less if you like, I often do)

2 teaspoons olive oil

3 cloves garlic, crushed

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (or other cheese of your liking, or no cheese at all, it’s optional)

Fresh mozzarella, sliced for the sandwiches

For the meatballs, remove and discard the crusts from the bread, then tear the bread into small pieces. Mash the bread pieces and buttermilk to a smooth paste in a large bowl, using a fork.

Add the beef, pork, Parmesan, parsley, yolk, garlic, 3/4 teaspoon of salt, and 1/8 teaspoon of pepper to the mashed bread. Stir the mixture gently until combined and uniform. Gently form the mixture into 1-inch round meatballs ( I made them smaller this time for the soup we made).

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the meatballs on a wire rack in a cookie sheet or roasting pan. Cook for approximately 20 to 30 minutes or until well browned.

For the sauce, cook the oil and garlic in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring often until fragrant but not browned, about 2 minutes (don’t scorch the garlic, it tastes pretty bad when you do. As soon as you can smell it, you’re ready for the next step). Stir in the crushed tomatoes and diced tomatoes with their juice. Bring to a simmer and cook until slightly thickened, 15 to 20 minutes. Stir in the basil and sugar. Season with salt to taste. Add the meatballs to the sauce and simmer until the meatballs are heated through, about 10 minutes.

For the garlic bread, preheat the broiler. Cut the loaf of bread in half lengthwise. In a small bowl, mix the butter, oil, garlic and oregano. Spread the mixture evenly on the bread. On a baking sheet, place the bread under the broiler for 3-5 minutes, or until slightly browned. Check frequently to make sure it doesn’t burn. Remove from the broiler and serve, or, if using the cheese, sprinkle cheese over the bread and place under the broiler for another 2 minutes, or until cheese is melted and slightly brown.

To assemble the sandwich, place as many meatballs as you desire on the bread. Cover the meatballs with some extra sauce and add some slices of fresh mozzarella. Place the sandwich back under the broiler for 1 to 2 minutes until the cheese is melted.

Of course, there are always variations on this. I don’t eat cheese, so my sandwich went without. Michelle only wanted a small sandwich so she could have some pasta too, so she only had a half sandwich. You could also add some Italian sausage to the mix and have them on the sandwich as well.

It’s a great use of some leftovers. Everyone loves a good sub sandwich, and having this one on the toasted garlic bread makes it even better.

I think I am going to make some shrimp tomorrow, although I am not sure how I am going to do it just yet. Check back and see what I come up with. until then, enjoy your evening and enjoy your meal!

 

 
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Posted by on August 13, 2012 in Beef, Breads, Cooking, Dinner, Sandwiches, Sauce

 

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