Monday, May 10, 2010

Family Supper- Spaghetti and Meatballs and Bonus! Meatball Hoagies

My parents and sister came to visit and after a five hour drive I thought they'd enjoy a home cooked meal. After all, how many of these meals has my mom made for me?! I wanted to make something homey, comforting, delicious and Italian. Enter spaghetti and meatballs! This is one of my favorite meals to make. Ever. I love to form the meatballs into little balls of perfection, oozing with sauteed veggies, herbs and fresh cheese. And making homemade pasta sauce is always a joy, as it is so very easy and fills the entire house with the smells of Italy. I served the entree with a light Strawberry and Greens Salad in a Balsamic Vinegarette, Marinated Asparagus and Garlic Bread. Served with a fantastic bottle of our favorite Merlot, this meal sure did satisfy!

Spaghetti and Meatballs
The ultimate comfort food. 
Serves 6 plus extra meatballs

Extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, smashed
2 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh parsley leaves
1 cup milk
4 thick slices firm white bread, crust removed
1 pound ground beef
1/2 pound ground pork
1/2 pound ground Italian sausage
1 large egg
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more for serving
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 cups heated homemade pasta sauce, recipe follows, or good quality jarred tomato sauce
1/2 pound fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced
Leaves from 3 sprigs fresh basil
1 pound spaghetti

Bring a big pot of salted water to a boil for the spaghetti. Heat 3 tablespoons oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, and parsley and cook until the vegetables are soft but still translucent, about 10 minutes. Take the pan off the heat and let cool.

Pour enough milk over the bread in a bowl to moisten and let it soak while the onions are cooling. Combine the meats in a large bowl. Add the egg and Parmigiano and season generously with salt and pepper. Use your hands to squeeze the excess milk out of the bread and add that to the bowl along with the cooled onion mixture. Gently combine all the ingredients with your hands until just mixed together. Don't overwork or the meatballs will be tough. Roll into similar sized meatballs. (I got 16 meatballs about the size of pool balls.)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Heat a 3 T. of oil in the frying pan over medium heat and brown the meatballs on all sides, about 10 minutes. Put them into a baking dish and spoon about half of the tomato sauce over. Lay the fresh mozzarella over top and drizzle with olive oil. Put the meatballs in the oven and bake until the meatballs are cooked through, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti in the boiling water until al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain and put it onto a large serving platter. Pour on the rest of the sauce and mix well. Spoon the meatballs on top of the spaghetti and garnish with basil leaves. Serve immediately along with extra cheese.

Homemade Pasta Sauce

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled San Marzano tomatoes, drained and crushed by hand, liquid reserved
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, torn into pieces

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until the vegetables are soft, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and about 1/2 cup of the reserved liquid and season with salt and pepper. Cook until the sauce is thick, about 10 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Reduce the heat and let simmer for 20 to 25 minutes. Stir in the fresh basil and season again.

Bonus! Meatball Hoagies
Got extra meatballs? Here is the perfect leftover recipe!

2 meatballs, halved
1/4 cup tomato sauce, plus more for dipping
Provolone cheese
Sauteed onions and peppers, optional
Basil leaves, optional
1 hoagie bun

Arrange halved meatballs cut side down on hoagie. Top with sauce, cheese and veggies. Bake at 375 degrees for 5-10 minutes until heated through. Serve with extra dipping sauce.

Wine of the Night
Cosentino Winery
2005 Reserve Merlot
Napa Valley

We don't drink a lot of Merlot but wanted to give this vintage from our favorite Napa Valley winery a shot. It was delicious! Spicy on the nose with aromas of pepper and pomegranate with an evenly developed palate of ripe black cherry, anise, and cedar. Ripe tannins set the profile for the finish of dried cranberry, citrus zest, and sage.

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