lundi 5 mars 2007

There are days when all you want is pasta.

Sometimes, you don't want anything fancy. No siree. Sometimes you want something simple and satisfying, carbs be damned. And, for me at least, that something generally finds itself in the form of pasta. (Not that I'm on a low-carb diet, per se. I never could be! But, given that I have to be in a bikini 17 days, I've been cutting back a wee bit. Or at least trying to.)

And so I went through my online archive of recipes I'd clipped from various web sources, when I realised - oh, look, I have an entire shelf full of cookbooks that just collect dust, I should use a recipe from one of them. So I did. I initially was going to use the meatball recipe from Marcella Hazan's Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking (after all, it made sense, this dish being an Italian one). Since I didn't want to buy milk nor bread (her recipe calls for a slice of white bread soaked in milk), as leftovers of both end up sitting around and eventually getting moldy, I ended up with a recipe from The Joy of Cooking - the new version, which, luckily, is just as good as the 1975 version.

So yeah! Spaghetti and meatballs, yay! While the recipe called for large 2-inch meatballs, I prefer mine smaller so that I can have more. I know, I probably don't actually have more meatwise, but it's all about perception. And more is better!

(Unless you're talking about yucky things, of course. Then less is better.)


Italian meatballs
Makes about 35 1-inch meatballs
Adapted from The Joy of Cooking

1 pound ground beef
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup dried bread crumbs
1 large egg, beaten
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 cup all-purpose flour (I ended up using only 1/4 cup)
2 tablespoons olive oil

Combine everything but the flour and olive oil in a large bowl. Mix sith your hands. Scoop out the mixture in tablespoons and form into 1-inch balls. Dredge the meatballs in flour.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Brown the meatballs in batches. Place in a baking pan and cook in a preheated 375 degree oven for 8 minutes. Add to the tomato sauce.

Tomato sauce
Makes 2 2/3 cups (just barely enough for a pound of pasta. If you like lots of sauce, I'd either double or only toss with 1/2 pound of pasta).

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 small carrot, finely chopped
1 celery rib with leaves, finely chopped (I didn't have any celery, so I left this out. You can too!)
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon chopped basil, rosemary, sage, or thyme (I used rosemary as that's the only fresh herb I haven't killed. Yet.)
1 3/4 pounds ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and coarsely chopped, OR one 28-ounce can whole tomatoes, with their juice
2 teaspoons tomato paste
3/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon black pepper, or to taste

Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot, celery, and parsley. Cover, reduce the heat to low, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are very soft (15-20 minutes).

Add garlic and herbs and cook, stirring, for about 30 seconds.

Stir in the tomatoes, tomato paste, salt, and black pepper. (I also added some red pepper flakes, because I've been on a wee bit of a spicy kick lately.) Simmer, uncovered, crushing the canned tomatoes with the side of a spoon to break them up, until the sauce is thickened, 15 to 20 minutes.

Pass through a food mill if desired (ha - more to clean? No way).