Friday, February 13, 2009

Fresh Tomato Sauce and Meatballs

I've never been a huge fan of most bottled tomato sauces; I think homemade sauce looks, smells and tastes better. Growing up, my best friend's mom used to make gallons of delicious fresh tomato sauce every fall. Her sauce was packed full of meatballs and sausage (complete with all the tasty grease that goes along with it) and was perfectly seasoned. It did, however, consume nearly an entire day with blanching, boiling, baking (meatballs), simmering, stirring, etc. It was always worth it in the end, but most of us don't have that kind of time nowadays. So here's an alternative for you.

This sauce is fast and healthy. And by using canned tomatoes, you can have relatively fresh sauce any time of year. It's perfect over pasta, in lasagna or on pizza. You can use it immediately or freeze it for up to 1 year. Did I mention that it's also quite versatile? You can skip the meatballs if you're short on time, add extra vegetables if you like your sauce chunky, or blend some of the tomatoes if you like your sauce a bit thinner. Try it out. I'm sure it will be an improvement from whatever Ragu or Prego sauce you're currently eating.

recipe and pictures by Kelly

1 pound lean ground beef
1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
1/4 cup milk
1/2 onion, shredded or very finely chopped*
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon allspice
  1. Mix all ingredients. Shape mixture into about 20 1 1/2 inch meatballs.
  2. Heat a large non-stick skillet and carefully place in skillet. Brown all sides of the meatballs, being careful not to break them. Cook until no longer pink in the center.
*Shredding your onions prevents them from falling out of your meatball when they're cooking. It will also really bring out the flavor, so be sure to pug your nose while shredding!

Tomato Sauce with Meatballs
recipe and pictures by Kelly
makes about 4 cups

Serve with 1 pound pasta

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cans (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes*
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 red (or green, if you prefer) bell pepper, chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  1. In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat (or use the same skillet the meatballs were cooked in). Cook garlic and onion about 3 minutes. Add the bell pepper and cook until softened.
  2. Stir in remaining ingredients, except meatballs. Heat until boiling; reduce heat. Cover and simmer about 15-20 minutes.
  3. Optional: if using meatballs, add them and let them simmer with the sauce another 10 minutes.
  4. Use sauce immediately, refrigerate for 2 weeks, or freeze for up to 1 year.

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