Monday, August 2, 2010

spaghetti with simple tomato basil sauce, meatballs and fresh peas


yields 4 servings


olive oil 
sea salt
2/3 pound fresh peas in pods
1 pound spaghetti (such as barilla plus)
a block of parmesan reggiano, for serving


1/2 bunch marjoram, leaves picked, roughly chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
3/4 cup good quality fine bread crumbs*
1/2 cup grated fresh parmesan reggiano
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 pound ground sausage
1/2 pound ground beef

tomato basil sauce

olive oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
1 small bunch fresh basil, leaves picked, stalks finely chopped
1 – 28 oz. can good quality plum tomatoes
sea salt and fresh ground black pepper
good quality balsamic vinegar



Shell peas and set aside.

*For bread crumbs, tear half a crusty baguette (preferably day old) into small pieces and pulse until fine in a food processor.  Place in oven on low broil for 2 – 5 minutes, stirring as needed, until evenly browned.  Voila.  Instant bread crumbs.

Combine first seven ingredients until well mixed.  With your hands, add ground beef and sausage to the mixture, breaking the meat into smaller chunks.  Claw at the meat rather than kneading it, being careful not to over mix as meat will easily become tough. 

Have a bowl of cold water nearby.  Dip hands in water before pinching off enough meat to gently form 1-1/2 inch balls.  Place meatballs on plate and set aside.

Place each meatball in the ‘cup’ of a cupcake tin, greased with olive oil.  Bake in the oven at 400 degree oven for about 15 minutes or until firm but not solid.  Cut into one meatball to be certain it is fully cooked.  This low-maintenance method eliminates the mess of cooking in the skillet and yields perfect meatballs with uniform color and shape.  For stovetop method, cook in two batches in a a large skillet with two glugs of olive oil, turning to brown evenly.  Once finished, transfer meatballs to a paper towel lined plate. 

At this point, place the spaghetti in a large pot of  boiling water and cook according to package directions, until al dente.

tomato sauce

Heat a medium saucepan and pour in a glug or two of olive oil.  Add sliced garlic and chopped basil stalks, stirring now and then until garlic begins to color.  Sprinkle 2/3 of the basil in the pan.  Add the tomatoes, sauce and all.  Bring to a simmer, breaking up tomatoes with a wooden spoon.  Season to taste.  Add a splash of balsamic vinegar.  Stir and turn heat to medium-low to keep warm.

Warm meatballs in a large skillet over medium heat.  Divide pasta and meatballs between four plates or bowls.  Spoon over tomato sauce.  Sprinkle remaining basil and a handful of peas over each dish.  Finish with shaved parmesan.

Pairs well with a slightly sweet, fruit forward wine such as prosecco, rose or pinot grigio.

Recipe adapted from ‘Jamie at Home- Cook Your Way to the Good Life’ by Jamie Oliver.

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