With all this unusually cold weather, I started to crave one of my favorite comfort foods - Spaghetti and meatballs. I was having a few people over for dinner, though, so I decided to change up the recipe by stuffing the meatballs with yummy mozzarella and making a fresh pomodoro sauce instead of the usual marinara. I used Giada De Laurentiis' stuffed meatball recipe for the most part, but I changed it a bit and used my own pomodoro recipe to lighten it all up. It was a quick, easy, cheap, and satisfying dinner for about 4 people, and we even had leftovers to spare (keep reading to see what my super talented friend, MacKenzie of Grilled Cheese Social, did with her stuffed meatballs). The dinner was so yummy that everyone started eating it before I could even snap one last picture of the final product, so you'll just have to make it yourself to see how pretty and delicious it is!
- 1 small (6-ounce) onion, grated
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus 1/2 cup for the pasta
- 1/3 cup Italian-style bread crumbs
- 1 large egg
- 2 tablespoons ketchup
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for seasoning
- 16 ounces organic ground chuck (or you can use 16 ounces of meatloaf mix)
- 2 ounces smoked mozzarella cheese, cut into 16 (1/2-inch) cubes
- 1 pound angel hair or other long pasta
- 10 chopped roma tomatoes
- 1/2 cup Julienne cut basil
- 3 tablespoons good extra virgin olive oil
- 4 minced cloves of garlic
For the meatballs: Position an oven rack in the lower 1/3 of the oven. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with tin foil.
In a large bowl, combine the onion, 1/2 cup parsley, 2/3 cup Parmesan, bread crumbs, egg, ketchup, garlic, red pepper flakes, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Add the beef (or whatever meat you chose). Using your hands, combine all ingredients gently but thoroughly. Shape the meat mixture into 16 (1 1/2-inch-diameter) meatballs and place on the prepared baking sheet. Make a hole in the center of each meatball and place a cube of mozzarella inside. Reform the meatball so that the mozzarella is completely covered with the meat mixture. Bake the meatballs for 15 minutes until cooked through.
Meanwhile, sauté garlic in the olive oil on medium heat for 30 seconds before adding the tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Stir the tomatoes every now and then until they begin to make a light sauce. Once the tomatoes are cooked more (see photo 3 above), add the julienned basil leaves. Turn the stove to low, and let it all simmer until the meatballs and pasta are ready.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain and place in a large serving bowl. Add the sauce, toss gently, and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan, and serve with the meatballs (and an optional bottle or 2 of your favorite red wine - we went with Coppola Claret).
And don't think that the fun ends there – head on over to Grilled Cheese Social to get the recipe for the amazing “Meatwad” grilled cheese sandwich that Kenzie created. (And a little friendly warning: Prepare to drool over all her ridiculous creations.. I’m telling you, the girl’s got more than a pretty face - she's flat out talented in the kitchen).
Hope you enjoy these yummy recipes, and a big thanks to Kenzie for letting me show off her lip-smacking blog!