Homemade Spaghetti and Meatballs, our take on an Italian/American classic where East meets West in a most loving passionate embrace. However, we kick it up a notch with some great ingredients and homemade pasta. How does that sound for a dish for the New Year?
Song of the day: “A Handful of Soul” by Mario Biondi.
Homemade Spaghetti and Meatballs. Think tender delicate homemade spaghetti meets a rich sweet tomato sauce and to keep it even more interesting handmade amazingly seasoned tender packed with flavor meatballs!
East meets West…………………………….
As I am writing this, Nicoletta is in Rome. It is hard being apart, however, I am glad that she does not have to suffer the winter and has a break in the sunny skies of the forever beautiful Italian city. This Homemade Spaghetti and Meatballs is kind of like a story. The story of Loreto meets Nicoletta. The result, classic traditional Italian technique meets passionate foodie combining great ingredients and desire to an end result that is absolutely a mouth-watering affair!
Back in the Day………………….
I remember being Italian back in the sixties. Felt like a stranger because of what we ate, how we celebrated, and the fact that my name was changed to suit people was not something I enjoyed. I remember kids making fun of what we ate and soon Italians were adapting to fit in, even to the point that they made up their own language that was an embellished English with a side flare of Italian.
Boy am I glad how things have evolved and how food has broken those borders. However, I have to say some great food has been born due to this melding of culture like this Homemade Spaghetti and Meatballs. Truthfully in Italy we never serve meatballs on Spaghetti; they are usually served separately during another stage of the several course meal, we call it Secondo. However when in Canada…………………………………
Into the Kitchen We Go…………………
- First things first, we have to get the meatballs made. This is a hands all-in affair. Totally needs some foodie love. So, with that being said, into a bowl go all the ingredients for the meatballs. Breadcrumbs, spices, Parmigiano, milk-soaked bread, herbs. Now in with your hands and get all those wonderful jewels well blended and well incorporated, and into the fridge to marinate for a few hours.
It’s all about the sauce, the sauce, the sauce……………..
- One thing we believe is to use great ingredients and with that, pick a really good quality San Marzano tomato marked D.O.P. Meaning made in Italy and grown in the area. The result, sweet rich tomato sauce.
- Secondly, we need some sauteed minced onion and whole garlic to get the sauce started, then fresh torn basil leaves. After the sauce is done we take out the garlic, this will ensure that the garlic won’t overpower the flavor of the tomato and herbs. I like to put some dried chili flakes just to kick it up a notch. I also add a pinch of sugar to soothe the acidity of the tomato, and a splash of tomato paste.
- Last thing with the sauce, it is time to leave it on very low heat to simmer and build in richness, texture, and flavor, the rest is history!
Roll-em Roll-em Roll-em………….
- So, the sauce is simmering, the meat has marinated, now time to form those delicious morsels of Italian love.
- I take a heaping tablespoon of the meat mixture then place that in the palm of my hand. Using pressing and circular rotations with one hand over the other I shape them into nice small rounds and place them on a sheet.
- When the meatballs are all formed get some E.V.O. oil heated up in a pan and in goes the meatballs to be browned.
- When we are done we take the lid off the sauce and in they go gently to be soothed and embraced by the rich tomato sauce!
Pasta making time……………………..
This is where Nicoletta comes in and works her amazing hand magic. I call her the dough whisperer. She starts the dough in a food processor then works it on a work board I made for her. I have to say we are a great team and love working with and helping each other. I think it makes the food taste FANTASTICO!
- An important step is after you have needed the dough it needs to rest. Nicoletta puts a bowl over the dough ball she has formed, this will keep the dough moist.
- With the aid of the KitchenAid and pasta attachment, she rolls out pasta sheets. How you ask, well, she cuts the dough into slices and starts at one on the pasta dial. On the first run before hitting number two on the dial she folds the dough to get it more even and rectangular. This goes on until she hits the desired thickness. We like number six because it is spaghetti and we don’t want them too thin. As a result, nice texture and flavor!
- Once all the sheets are rolled out and dusted with some semolina flour, time to cut the spaghetti. Attach the cutter and off we go one sheet at a time.
- When the sheet is rolled through and the spaghetti comes out, handle it gently and spin it to form a spiral. Dust again with the semolina flour after you place it on a sheet. That’s it, pasta is done.
Guess What? It is almost time to eat some Homemade Spaghetti and Meatballs……………………
- All that is left is to cook the pasta. Get a large pot of salted water on boil. Shake off the pasta spirals and into the pot, it goes.
- Do not add oil to the water. This only makes the spaghetti slick and no sauce will cling to it. A no no in Italian cooking. We want that sauce to hold on tight and dance some flavor into the pasta.
- 3-5 minutes and this pasta is ready to rock and roll to the flavors of Homemade Spaghetti and Meatballs!
Homemade Spaghetti and Meatballs, Mangia Mangia!
Look at this plate, clean, colorful. The aroma is all there. Time to get my fork and get all twirled up in the spaghetti!
Ooooooooh the pasta is beautiful. Delicate, tender, light, furthermore al dente and deliciously coated with the tomato sauce. I love how sweet and rich the sauce is and that little bit of heat really adds a nice hit to pop the flavor a bit. Now, let’s taste these meatballs. Yum, moist and full of fantastic herb-seasoned flavor. Tender, melt in your mouth good as that sauce has just tenderized and flavored this beef to no end. Simply scrumptious!
The New Year…….
I know everyone is thinking to themselves, need to diet, watch what I eat, prepare some light meals. Strangely enough, this dish served in the right portion is not only healthy but light. I guarantee you will feel so good and wonderful. The only challenge is saying no to the second helping. I have a cure for that, what if I told you that if you heat this up tomorrow in a hot pan, it gets all groovy and crispy full of flavor. I think that would stop you from having that second dish. Trust me on the pan thing. I really want to hear what you think after trying it.
I believe that you have to cook and have fun all at the same time. Life gives you plenty of seriousness. Fun is therapeutic, however, warning after laughing a lot and making this dish you are going to have some sore smiling muscles, I assure you. However, it feels so good to smile authentically and all that goodness is going to go into this dish of Homemade Spaghetti and Meatballs!
Song of the Day: “A Handful of Soul” by Mario Biondi.Print
Homemade Spaghetti and Meatballs. Think tender delicate homemade spaghetti meets a rich, sweet, tomato sauce and to keep it even more interesting, handmade amazingly seasoned, tender, packed with flavor meatballs!
For the Homemade Pasta:
- 160 g flour 00 (or all-purpose)
- 40 g semolina flour
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 tsp olive oil
- a few drops of water, if necessary
For the Meatballs (makes 16 meatballs):
- 500 g ground lean beef
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2 Tbsp minced onion
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp onion powder
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 1 tsp sea salt
- pinch of paprika
- 1 Tbsp chopped parsley
- 2 Tbsp breadcrumbs
- 1 slice of bread soaked in milk
- 1/4 cup Parmigiano Reggiano
For the Sauce:
- 796 ml San Marzano tomatoes (1 large can)
- 1/2 onion, minced
- 1 clove garlic, whole
- 3–4 basil leaves
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 Tbsp tomato paste
- salt and pepper to taste
For the Homemade Pasta:
- In the bowl of a mixer add the flours, the teaspoon of olive oil, the pinch of salt, and crack the eggs in.
- Pulse until a raggedy dough starts to form. Add a few drops of water if necessary. Mix on low until somewhat smooth.
- Transfer the dough onto a work surface and keep kneading the dough over onto itself, turning and folding, using some good force to get that dough nice and smooth. The final texture should be soft and the dough velvety to the touch, and elastic.
- Shape the dough into a ball. Cover in plastic or with a bowl and let rest for 30 minutes.
- Take dough and cut into four even pieces.
- Using one piece at a time (keep the other pieces under the bowl so they do not dry out), lightly dust with semolina flour. Flatten the piece of dough and start rolling it in the pasta machine, starting from the lowest number on your machine.
- Dust sheet with extra semolina flour, then repeat. Adjust the knob up one number with each pass through until your pasta sheet is thin enough to see the outline of your hand. (Number 6 of the KitchenAid).
- Lay sheet on semolina floured surface (not overlapping). Repeat until all dough is finished.
- Attach the Spaghetti pasta cutting attachment to the pasta maker. Cut sheets with the spaghetti attachment running each sheet through.
- Swirl and make a nest with the spaghetti, place on a floured baking sheet and dust more semolina on top.
For the Meatballs:
- Break up ground beef and place into a large bowl.
- Add in all the ingredients for the meatballs, then, using your hands, mix and blend until well incorporated.
- Cover and refrigerate for at least a few hours or overnight if you want.
- Take meatballs out of the fridge, scoop a heaping tablespoon of the meat mixture into your palm. Using light pressure and circular motion with one hand over the other shape the meatballs. When done place on a sheet.
- Heat up e.v.o. oil in a large saute pan. Place meatballs and saute, turning so meatballs brown all over, around 10 minutes.
- When browned, take out of the pan and place onto a paper-lined dish.
For the Tomato Sauce:
- In a large skillet, heat the extra virgin olive oil on medium heat.
- Add garlic whole, and minced onion and sautée until softened.
- Add canned San Marzano tomatoes pureed or roughly chopped, the fresh basil leaves, tomato paste, pinch of sugar, salt and pepper.
- Stir and let simmer on low heat for about 30 minutes, or until desired consistency, stirring every now and then.
- Add the meatballs to the sauce and let simmer on low.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
- Add the fresh spaghetti to the boiling water, stir gently and cook until al dente or until pasta starts to float to the top (about 3-5 minutes).
- Drain, plate the spaghetti and add the tomato sauce on top, with one or two meatballs. Dust plenty of Parmigiano Reggiano (optional: add chili flakes).
For the meatballs, you can use a blend of ground pork and beef, and some also use some ground veal.
Homemade spaghetti cook faster than the dry variety. If you’re using store-bought spaghetti, look to the package for cooking time. Don’t hesitate to taste your pasta for texture, you do not want to overcook either one.