Tuesday, May 6, 2008

You Want What for Dinner?!

...spaghetti & meatballs of course.

You see, I have a bad habit of pestering hubby about helping me come up with dinner ideas. I say 'pester' because with as much time as I spend perusing cooking blogs and participating on boards, I really shouldn't need too much of hubby's input for dinner ideas. Though it is nice from time to time, the poor man couldn't pick out leeks and rhubarb from shallots in a lineup.

So, after a particularly stressful day and an inability to think straight, I forced hubby to come up with our Sunday dinner and of all things, he chose homemade spaghetti and meatballs. Though this would probably be the last thing I order in an Italian restaurant, I couldn't scoff at the idea and come off as the crazy wife who requests opinions but doesn't like any of them. Well, actually I suppose this happens all the time, but who's keeping track?

Spaghetti & MeatballsFor hubby, spaghetti & meatballs reek of nostalgia - family dinners and quality homemade food with fresh ingredients. For me, I think of $5.99 all-you-can-eat church spaghetti dinners. Growing up in an Asian household, I get nostalgic over things like nasi goreng, lemper ayam, and kue lapis. Dishes like spaghetti & meatballs usually came from Mr. Chef Boyardee, a sauce packet or the local Pasta House. Nonetheless, I forged on and began my search for a true, hearty & homemade recipe.

I wasn't quite sure where to start but as usual, a simple Google search resulted in a bevy of delectable recipes from fellow food bloggers. After reading through a few, I chose Chelley's spaghetti sauce from Sugar and Spice since I had over-zealously plucked my basil plant and needed to use dried basil. Then, knowing how much hubby likes Italian sausage, I found Elise's meatball recipe from Simply Recipes that uses both ground beef and Italian pork sausage. Plain breadcrumbs are used in the original recipe, but I tried Italian style breadcrumbs to give the meatballs an extra flavor kick.

Like many wonderful things in life, good things come to those who wait. Though we live in an instant gratification society, this homemade sauce is best when simmered all day, or at the very least a few hours. You'll be rewarded with tempting aromas wafting through your house and a sauce that is so much better than any kind you could buy in the store. Since I was at first skeptical, but certainly won over by this recipe, I'm submitting it to this week's Presto Pasta night.

While not the most sophisticated of dishes, homemade spaghetti & meatballs is ultimate comfort food. Sorry, Chef Boyardee.

Homemade Spaghetti Sauce
adapted from Sugar & Spice

2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 large sweet onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 28-oz. can tomato puree
1 28-oz. can tomato sauce
2 ½ teaspoons dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
Water from rinsing extra sauce and puree from inside of cans
2 teaspoons salt
2 Tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 bay leaf

1. Saute onion and garlic in olive oil over medium-low heat until onion is tender.
2. Add tomato sauce, tomato puree, parsley, basil, water, salt, sugar, pepper and bay leaf.
3. Stir and lower heat to a slow simmer. The sauce is best when simmered for at least 2 hours. Remove bay leaf before serving

Italian Meatballs
(adapted from Simply Recipes)

1 lb ground beef
½ lb fresh sweet(mild)Italian pork sausage, casings removed
2 Tablespoons finely chopped basil (I used 2 tsp dried basil)
2 Tablespoons finely chopped fresh Italian parsley
½ cup finely chopped crimini brown mushrooms
2 eggs, lightly beaten
¾ cup Italian style bread crumbs
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 ½ teaspoons Kosher salt
2 teaspoons fresh ground black pepper
1 Tbsp olive oil

1. Prepare the meatballs. Mix by hand in a large bowl beef, Italian sausage, basil, parsley, mushrooms, eggs, breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper until well mixed. Use small melon baller, or teaspoons to form 1-inch round meat balls. Roll and compress into tight balls. (We made ours a little larger).

2. Heat frying pan over high heat and add olive oil. Sear and brown meat balls on all sides, about 2-5 minutes depending on size of meatballs. You may need to brown two batches of the meatballs. Do not crowd the pan by stacking the meatballs. Cook in a single layer and do not over-cook as these will simmer with the sauce.

3. Add meatballs to spaghetti sauce, and gently stir. Simmer sauce and meatballs for 30-45 minutes, stirring occasionally.


Anonymous said...

I love a good spaghetti and meatballs dinner... but I am really picky about it! This sounds good.

Anonymous said...

Oh this looks good and it is a comfort food. I'm sure he was very appreciative of your efforts to please.

Kim in the Kitchen said...

I know what you mean about pestering your husband to help you plan a menu! I finally just made a list of all the main dishes we like and when I am uninspired I will hand him the list and ask him to pick.

Megs said...

Thanks for these recipes - as funny as it sounds, I've never really mastered good old spaghetti and meatballs! The dishes you mentioned growing up with are really making my mouth water, though!

RecipeGirl said...

I had to laugh. I always ask my hubby what the heck he'd like to suggest for dinner and he never can give me an answer. Just an IDEA once in a while would be nice.

Spaghetti and meatballs sounds pretty good to me once in a while. I don't think I've ever done it at home though!

test it comm said...

That looks good! I still haven't tried making my own spaghetti and meatballs. I will have to get around to it.

tigerfish said...

I always love a homemade pasta sauce. Heee...and what can go wrong with spaghetti and meatballs for dinner!
Of course, I will miss nasi goreng once in a while :P

La Bella Cooks said...

You can never go wrong with spaghetti and meatballs. Yours looks perfect!

Ruth Daniels said...

a much better version than Chef Boyardee! Thanks for sharing with Presto Pasta Nights. It sounds and looks awesome.

Meandering Eats said...

Simple, yes, but it looks beautiful! Great photos!