Monday, January 5, 2009

An Oldie But a Goodie: Spaghetti and Meatballs

Ahhh spaghetti and meatballs, one of my all time faves! I swear, I always said that if I wasn't Russian I would be Italian! I love Italian food! Whether it's traditional Italian or Italian American, like this particular dish is, I can't get enough!
It's funny that in America we serve spaghetti with meatballs. In a traditional Italian family you would never see that happen. Here is a bit of a history lesson: When Italians emigrated to America, they never ate the two together. Sure they ate pasta and they ate meatballs, but mixing the two together did not start until they started serving it to a non-Italian clientele in some of the restaurants they opened in their communities. Italy is one of the few countries who enjoys their pasta or rice separate from their protein. Italians found that their other clientele needed to have both the protein and the starch together...and so Bada Bing Bada Boom Spaghetti and Meatballs were born!
Clearly, this is not one of the most healthiest dishes out there. However, after careful research and development in my own kitchen, I have found ways to keep it healthier and not sacrifice any of the flavor. I have also discovered a much quicker way to make this hearty meal. I used to talk to all the Italians I knew and get their mom's and grandma's recipes for spaghetti and meatballs and I cooked all day, just like the real Italian grandmothers. After I finished scrubbing the kitchen from all the tomato sauce splatters, I thought, "There must be another way." And there was! Of coarse with the help of Trader Joes Marinara I was able to create a wonderful meal in a little over an hour! I'm sure that there is an Italian grandmother right now (or her family) reading this and shaking her head in horror. Relax grandma, I'm sure your sauce beats mine any day, but this definitely comes in at a close second.


2 pounds ground beef, 80% lean
5 egg whites
5 cloves of garlic, minced
1 whole onion, finely diced
1 large handful of Italian parsley, chopped
plenty of salt and pepper to taste
Olive oil for cooking

1 can of Trader Joes Tuscan Marinara Sauce
1 whole onion, chopped
5 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
8 large basil leaves, torn by hand into sauce
1 pound of whole wheat spaghetti

*By using whole wheat spaghetti and lean beef I was really able to cut down on the calories. Now they have this awesome pasta at Trader Joe's with flax seed in it! So I can almost feel good about eating this meal...almost.*

1. Combine all the ingredients except olive oil in a bowl and mix well with hands.

2. Pour oil into a deep and preferably wide pot; let oil get hot.
3. One at a time, roll the meatballs into about 3 inch balls and drop them into the pot. Be careful not to crowd the pan. Continue doing so in batches until all meatballs have been browned on each side.
4. Remove all the meatballs on to another plate.
5. Turn down the heat to medium and add onion to pan. Toss onion with oil. Continue cooking for about 15 minutes.
6. Turn down the heat and add the garlic and the tomato sauce. Let it cook for about 30 minutes.
8. Boil a pot of salted water for the spaghetti.
7. Add in meatballs and juices. Continue cooking until meatballs are cooked through and moist, about 20 minutes.
8. Remove meatballs and add basil leaves and spaghetti to sauce. Toss to coat and pour extra sauce on meatballs and spaghetti!

*This sauce is a bit chunkier, if you prefer it smooth you can just smooth it out a bit with a stick blender.*

1 comment:

Pam said...

You just can't get better than spaghetti with meatballs! Looks delicious.