Sunday, January 19, 2014

Marinara and Homemade Meatballs

Ah, spaghetti and meatballs; a traditional favorite.  And yes, it is easy to open a jar of pre-made marinara sauce and thaw the meatballs and voila! = quick dinner.  However, since I have started making my own meatballs, marinara sauce and pasta (though the pasta is another post), I have realized the extra time is worth the heaps of additional flavor - plus, you know exactly what you are putting into your food.

I make and can the marinara sauce in the summer with vine-ripened tomatoes from the garden - also adding whatever else I can from the garden - usually handfuls of fresh herbs like basil, oregano and thyme, and onions and peppers.

For the meatballs, when I have a little extra time, I like to make a big batch and freeze them so I can thaw as many as I need at a time. 

As far as the pasta goes, I cheated here and used store-bought pasta, but I will be posting my pasta-making experiences soon. 

Homemade Meatballs, Homemade Marinara Sauce with Pasta

For the meatballs:

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion (you can use less if you wish)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Mix all the ingredients in a bowl.  Dip your hands in water and form meatballs of your size choice - I like to make lots of little meatballs.  One of those cookie dough scoops works well to get even portion sizes.  Put the meatballs on a cookie sheet - I like to put a piece of tin foil down first to make clean - up a snap.  Bake in preheated oven for about 20 minutes, the internal temperature should read 170 degrees F.  

For the Marinara Sauce:

  • 20 pounds ripe tomatoes, skinned, cored and seeded
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup chopped sweet pepper
  • 1 bulb of garlic, all cloves peeled and minced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Place all ingredients in large stockpot.  Simmer for about a 1/2 an hour, or until all the vegetables are soft.  Press mixture through a sieve or food mill, return to stockpot.  Continue cooking until the volume is reduced by about a half, stirring to prevent sticking.  Ladle hot sauce into hot pint jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace.  Adjust two piece caps and process pints 35 minutes in a boiling water canner.

For the Spaghetti and Meatballs

  • 1 jar marinara sauce (store bought or homemade)
  •  1 pound meatballs (store bought or homemade)
  • 1 box spaghetti pasta
  • freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Cook pasta according to package directions.  Meanwhile, warm meatballs and marinara sauce together.  Serve meatballs and sauce over pasta, and top generously with freshly shredded Parmesan cheese. 

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