Sunday, January 20, 2008


We're getting ready to head out to San Diego to visit our son with a side trip to Vegas, so this is going to be my last post for a few weeks. I thought I was going to post a dessert, but the dessert never got made. Instead I ran to three stores to find ingredients for a cookie recipe to enter a contest that has a looming deadline.
Anyway, here's a good recipe for spaghetti and meatballs that I developed. The real secret to good spaghetti sauce is the tomatoes -- use the best qualilty tomatoes you can find and afford. I used Furmano's this time, but Tuttorosso are better. (I've been told that Muir Glen and San Marzano are also very good, but haven't tried them yet.) Roasting tomatoes brings out a more intense flavor and really enhances the sauce. (BTW, we have an even better recipe for sauce, but Guy won't let me share it. I'm working on him, though.)

Judy's Spaghetti and Meatballs

Tomato Sauce
28-oz. can whole Italian-style plum tomatoes, divided use
salt and pepper
5 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided use
3/4 cup chopped sweet onion
1 Tbsp. minced fresh garlic (I grated it)
4 Tbsp. tomato paste (I used Contadina plain tomato paste, not flavored)
15-1/2 oz. can tomato sauce (I used Contadina plain tomato sauce)
2 cups chicken broth
1 bay leaf
1/4 tsp. crushed anise seed
1 Tbsp. crushed dried basil (or 1/4 cup fresh chopped basil)
1/2 tsp. crushed dried oregano
pinch cayenne pepper or crushed red pepper flakes
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
DIRECTIONS: Preheat oven to 400 F. Spray a 9x12 baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Take whole tomatoes out of can, slit each open and squeeze or cut most of the seeds out. Place the tomatoes in the baking pan and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper and 2 Tbsp. olive oil. Roast for 1/2 hour; transfer to cooling rack.

In large heavy stockpot, saute the onions in the remaining olive oil over medium heat, till transparent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook an additional minute, taking care not to burn the garlic. Add the paste, reserved can juice from the tomatoes, the can of sauce and the roasted tomatoes and stir well, mashing down the roasted tomatoes with spatula or spoon. Cook for 3-5 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil, then lower heat to a high simmer. Cook sauce uncovered for about 1 hour, or to desired consistency, stirring as needed; then cover and simmer on low for another half hour or till sauce ingredients have blended.

1 lb. lean ground beef
1 lb. lean ground pork
1 lb. lean ground turkey
salt and pepper
2 eggs
1-1/2 tsp. minced garlic (I used McCormick California garlic blend with parsley)
1/4 tsp. crushed anise seed
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup Italian flavored bread crumbs
1/2 cup dried in the oven, then crumbled whole-wheat bread (I used Peppridge Farm WW)
1/4 cup ground flaxseed, preferably golden
1 tsp. crushed dried basil
1/4 tsp. crushed dried oregano
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 - 1/2 cup water
1/4 cup olive oil for rolling meatballs
DIRECTIONS: Reduce oven heat to 350F after taking tomatoes out. Spray a 10 x 15-1/2 pan with nonstick cooking spray. Spread the meat in a large bowl or in the 10 x 15-1/2 pan. Sprinkle the meat with salt and pepper, using about 1-1/2 tsp. salt, and about 1/2 tsp. pepper. Add remaining ingredients and mix well, using a wooden spoon, spatula or clean hands. Add more water if mixture is too stiff. Pour the olive oil into a small custard cup. Using an ice cream scoop dipped into the oil, scoop out a portion of meat, then roll into a ball with hands that have been dipped into the oil. Bake for 1/2 hour - 40 minutes, shaking the pan or turning meatballs over with spoon halfway through. Transfer to sauce pot and finish cooking the meatballs with the sauce.
TIPS: Best pastas: DeCecco, Barilla, Ronzoni (Ronzoni makes a line called Healthy Harvest, which is a 7-grain blend and it's very good. Guy won't eat it because he says pasta is supposed to be white, to which I responded that brown whole grains came before white, but he doesn't buy it. So I cook two pots of pasta when we have it; one for me, one for him. I am happy to say that he did not taste the turkey, flaxseed or the whole wheat bread in the meatballs, and I'm not talking.)

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