Sunday, January 20, 2008

Be Your Own Italian Grandmother

I don’t have an Italian grandmother (although I wouldn't trade my grandmas for the world), but if I had a bonus grandma, I think these would be a great approximation of what she would make.
The meatballs are lightened up a bit, using turkey instead of beef or pork. Sure, I'm too lazy to peel tomatoes, so I use the canned kind, but the sauce still tastes ten times better than anything you buy in a jar. Both recipes are easy, but make for a great dinner!
And even better, both are freezable and perfect for pulling out of the oven on a busy weeknight.

Pasta Sauce

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small yellow onion, diced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 32 oz. can of whole tomatoes
3 tablespoons fresh Italian parsley leaves
3 tablespoons fresh chopped fresh basil
1 32 oz. can of tomato sauce
½ tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon dried fennel seeds
½ tablespoon dried thyme
½ tablespoon dried oregano
1 6 oz. can tomato paste
1 cup dry red wine

In a large stock pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and sauté for 5 or 6 minutes until the onions are translucent.

In a food processor, combine the whole tomatoes (drained), Italian parsley, and basil, pulse several times until the tomatoes are broken up into very small pieces, but still have texture. Add to the pan with the onions and garlic, and then add the tomato sauce, red pepper flakes, fennel, thyme, oregano, and tomato paste. Bring to a bubble. Add the red wine and bring to a bubble again. Reduce heat to low and let simmer, stirring occasionally for two hours or as long as you can take it. The longer it cooks, the better it tastes, but honestly, it tastes pretty good as soon as you add the red wine.

Turkey Meatballs

1 small onion, grated
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 large egg
1/4 cup dried bread crumbs
3 oz (half a small can) of tomato paste
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon dried fennel seeds
1 teaspoon oregano
1 pound ground dark turkey meat (Don’t use the super-lean turkey or they will turn out very dry. I think if you used a mix of lean and dark it would probably turn out okay, though.)
2 tablespoons olive oil

Add the onion, garlic, egg, bread crumbs, tomato paste, parsley, Parmesan, red pepper flakes, fennel seeds, oregano, salt and pepper to a large bowl and blend. Mix in the turkey. Shape the turkey mixture into 1 1/4-inch-diameter meatballs. Place on a large rimmed baking sheet covered in foil and sprinkled with the olive oil. Roll the meatballs around in the olive oil. This keeps them from sticking to the foil and helps them brown in the oven. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper.

Bake for 10 minutes, then pull them out and turn them over. Bake another ten minutes. Add to heated pasta sauce and let simmer for 10 minutes or so until they are completely cooked through. Serve over pasta.


Jennifer said...

This sounds yummy!

Lydia said...

Tim and I will definitely try this one out!!!

elizabeth said...

I can't wait to try this out! Now where's that recipe for the black-eyed pea dip...

Megan said...

I have to say...this was delicious. Even better because you made it for us :)