'Spaghetti and meatballs' gets a really bad rap, as far as I'm concerned. While I'm sure we've all had a really crappy plate of overcooked pasta with dry meatballs swimming in sauce, I still really enjoy the combination of flavors and textures this dish provides. This recipe provides a really quick and easy Arrabiata sauce (spicy tomato sauce) and a basic (but yummy) meatball recipe that won't fail to renew your faith in this classic combination.
A note: Canned tomatoes? Yes, I use canned tomatoes. In fact, the Italian San Marzano tomatoes are quite easy to find, and are absolutely delicious in many applications. These canned gems are a staple item in my pantry, and make a great sauce.
Pasta Arrabiata with Meatballs
For the Sauce:
(Recipe makes about 1 cup sauce)
1 28oz. can, San Marzano Tomatoes
2 cloves Garlic, smashed
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 tsp. Fennel seed
1/2 tsp. dried Oregano
1/2 tsp. dried Basil leaves
1 Bay leaf
1/4 cup red wine
1 T. brown sugar
2 T. Capers, drained, rinsed
2 t. Olives (any kind you wish) drained, rinsed, rough chopped
Simmer tomatoes, garlic, herbs, spices, wine, and sugar on low.
When most of the liquid has evaporated, remove from heat.
Remove bay leaf and break up garlic cloves with your spoon (or remove if you desire.)
Stir in capers and olives.
Season to taste.
For the Meatballs:
(Recipe makes about 20 1" diameter meatballs)
1 lb. meat (beef, pork, veal or any combination of the three)
2 oz. hot Sopresata, diced (or Salami, Pepperoni, etc.)
1/4 cup Parmigiano cheese
1/2 cup bread crumbs
3 cloves Garlic, minced
2 sprigs, Thyme, removed from stem and minced
1 sprig, Rosemary, removed from stem and minced
Pulse meat and Sopresata in a food processor until combined.
Add in bread crumbs, cheese, garlic, herbs, salt and pepper.
Pulse to combine.
Remove a piece of the mixture and cook. Taste. This is really the best (and only) way to check the seasoning of raw meat products.
Adjust seasoning accordingly.
Remove from food processor and roll meatballs between your hands to shape.
(Freeze any unused meatball mix for up to two months.)
Saute meatballs (5-7 per person) in olive oil to brown, then add in about 2 oz. of sauce per person and a little red wine and simmer to finish meatballs.
Add in a small handful of cooked pasta per person (I used linguine, use whatever you like) and toss to coat.
Serve with a drizzle of olive oil, freshly grated Parmigiano and a nice hunk of toasted bread.