random musings

June 11, 2011

Weeknight Spaghetti and meatballs

When I was growing up, spaghetti and meatballs were a special event. Dad's family is Italian, so he took a lot of pride in authentic cooking techniques. The sauce bubbled for hours, the meatballs were big and fried in plenty of olive oil. The kitchen floor was covered in the detritus of onion and garlic skins, green pepper bits, etc .....much to my mother's dismay.

Since I don't have the ability to spend that much time in the kitchen =(  and I'd like not to be 300+ lbs, my version is significantly lighter.


1/2 lb beef
1 lb pork
3/4 c bread crumbs
3/4 c grated parmesan
2 eggs
3 cloves minced garlic
2 tbs dried parsley
1 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp dried oregano
splash milk
salt and pepper

A jar of your fave sauce. Pick a savory one (garlic or mushroom seem to work best). Or make it from scratch
2-3 cloves minced garlic
2 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp dried basil

1 lb dried pasta of your choice
shredded parmesan for serving


Mix all ingredients. I have found that fresh garlic is essential. Powdered doesn't cut it. Use a 2 tbs cookie scoop (I used the coffee measure from a defunct machine) to portion out the meatballs as a single layer in a freezer-safe container. Or, if you're like me and have one of those brilliant side-by-sides with no storage space whatsoever, place the raw meatballs in multiple layers on a metal pie plate. Separate each layer with wax paper. Regardless of your method, when the meatballs have frozen thru, stick 'em in a bag.

The key to making this a weeknight meal is to make the meatballs ahead of time. I make a batch of these every month or so. The process can be broken down further. Mix ingredients, stick bowl in fridge, portion out some meatballs, stick bowl in fridge... you get the idea. No need to thaw before using.

On the night you want to eat 'em:
Fry the meatballs in olive oil until they are brown on all sides. There is no need to thaw them. The meatballs do not need to be cooked completely at this time. Once all the meatballs are browned, add all the sauce ingredients and bring to a simmer. Now is the time to start the water boiling for the pasta. After the sauce has been simmering 20 min, add dried pasta to the boiling water. When the pasta is done (see packaging for cooking times, usually 6-7 min) your sauce will be ready.

Start-to-finish (not including meatball prep): <1 hour. This includes eating time and cleanup!

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