Sundays are special. We usually get together with my family at my parents house or I cook for my husband and I at home. Sunday is the day I try to forget about obligations and just enjoy spending time with loved ones. There’s something so comforting about cooking an aromatic Italian meal, and last night I cooked Frank’s favorite, classic meatballs with tomato sauce made from scratch over capellini pasta. It’s a hearty meal, but I wholeheartedly believe that if you find balance in life you can enjoy a meal like this guilt free.
I found this recipe four or five years ago from a cookbook called 100 Recipes Every Woman Should Know: Engagement Chicken and 99 Other Fabulous Dishes to Get You Everything You Want in Life. It’s a fun cookbook of girly recipes compiled by the editor of Glamour magazine and makes a great gift for single girlfriends. My favorite cookbooks are by Gwyneth Paltrow (It’s All Good, My Father’s Daughter), Giada De Laurentiis (Giada’s Feel Good Food), and Barefoot Contessa (How Easy is That, Back to Basics).
I always buy all organic ingredients from Whole foods and for this recipe I usually allocate an hour and a half to prep and cook.
The recipe is as follows (slightly doctored) and serves 2-4 people:
- 3/4 pound ground beef
- 1/4 cup plain bread crumbs (I like whole foods 365 plain)
- 1 large cage-free brown egg
- 4 tablespoons grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic (use a mincer)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Make the meatballs: In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients except the olive oil, mixing gently with your hands.
- Rinse your hands with cool water, then lightly shape the meatball mixture into balls no bigger than the size of a ping pong ball, using circular motions in between your palms.
- In a large heavy nonstick skillet, heat the olive oil over moderately high heat.
- Arrange the meatballs in the skillet in a single layer and cook, turning a few times, until browned on all sides, about 8-10 minutes total, being careful not to burn them. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
- 3 large garlic cloves, chopped
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- one 28 ounce can of organic whole tomatoes (I prefer from San Marzano)
- kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 tablespoon organic unsalted butter (butter is not bad for you)
- 5-8 basil leaves, torn or cut into pieces (roll each leaf up then cut horizontally with scissors)
- Make the sauce: In a large saucepan, cook the garlic in the olive oil over moderate heat until golden, about 30 seconds.
- Turn the heat up to high; add the can of tomatoes and a pinch of kosher salt. Crush the tomatoes with a wooden spoon until they are all broken apart. Bring to a simmer, then turn heat down to moderately low. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is thick, 15-20 minutes. (see step 5, get a pot of boiling water started).
- Add the butter and basil to the saucepan, stirring to melt the butter. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Add the meatballs to the saucepan, stirring to combine. Simmer until heated through, about 5 minutes longer. (see step 5, add pasta to boiling water)
- Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water (with a pinch of salt) to a boil. Add (1/2 box for 2 people, full box for four people) of organic capellini or gluten free pasta of your choice and cook according to package instructions until al dente. Reserve 1/4 cup of pasta water and add to tomato sauce only if its gotten too thick. Drain pasta in a colander and place back over the pot.
- Dish pasta into pasta bowls and add the sauce with meatballs on top.
- If desired, sprinkle grated Parmigiano-Reggiano on top.
I like to serve a lightly dressed caesar salad beforehand made of torn organic hearts of romaine (I buy Organic Girl pre-washed) and Cucina Antica Organic table fresh caesar dressing.. its light like a vinaigrette and subtle in flavor. Keep the romaine in refrigerator and wait to dress until serving so its crisp and cool. Add fresh ground pepper to taste and if desired, top with crunchy croutons and grated or shaved Parmesan.
Hope you enjoy sharing this Italian meal with your loved ones and add it to your Sunday dinner repertoire!