My boyfriend loves spaghetti and meatballs. If it were up to him, we would have this for dinner every night with the occasional meatball sub sprinkled in. I use this basic recipe for meatballs with my favorite easy sauce every few weeks for our regular spaghetti and meatball weeknight recipe. Since there is only two of us and we are usually watching our weight, I always freeze my leftover meatballs (before putting them in sauce.) I love being able to make a really quick tomato sauce on weekdays and then just pop in the meatballs we need for dinner that night.
However on the weekends when we are not busy, I like to try a new meal that take longer to pull together and that is really special. We usually likes to do themed nights with the food and have drinks, an appetizer or bread, dinner, and a dessert all in the same “genre” if you will. Italian night is a popular ones because there are so many options. Since we have been on a Ina Garten kick lately, I decided to try her “Real Meatballs and Spaghetti” with some minor changes to make it to our liking.
We paired it with a fresh loaf of Italian bread with some olive oil to dip it in, some prosciutto and sharp provolone rolled together, and or course, a bottle of wine. For dessert, my boyfriend made us Italian Spritz cookies. It was the perfect date night and so delicious! I froze the extra meatballs and with the leftover meatballs that had been cooked in the sauce, I made the best meatball subs with the leftover Italian bread and a garlic spread to make it into garlic bread for lunch the next day.
I say that this recipe is a special occasion meal because buying ground veal, pork and beef can get expensive! I don’t have a butcher and I often question the meats at my grocery store. Recently, I have been getting my meats at Costco for steaks and chicken breast and then Whole Foods for ground meat and fish. It’s a little more expensive, but I find that it’s worth if for the quality. An extra plus is that at Whole Foods you can get the ground meat by weight so you can buy exactly what you need for these meatballs. Do you have a recipe that you love to make for special occasions or date nights?
- ½ pound ground veal
- ½ pound ground pork
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 cup fresh white bread crumbs
- ¼ cup seasoned dry bread crumbs
- 2 tbsp. chopped flat-leaf parsley
- ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 2-3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 2 tsp. kosher salt
- ½ tsp. freshly ground pepper
- 1 large egg
- ¾ cup warm water
- Canola oil
- Olive oil
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 cup chopped yellow onion
- 1½ tsp. minced garlic
- ½ cup dry red wine (I used the Cabernet I was drinking)
- 1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
- 1 tbsp. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 1½ tsp. kosher salt
- ½ tsp. freshly ground pepper
- In a large bowl add in ground meats, both types of bread crumbs, parsley, Parmesan, garlic, salt, pepper, egg, and warm water. Combine with hands until just mixed then form 1½ inch balls.
- In a 12-inch skillet pour in equal amounts of canola and olive oil so that there is a ¼ inch of oil in the pan. Heat oil over medium-low heat. Line a platter with a few layers of paper towels. In several batches, carefully cook the meatballs in oil, browning them on each side. Don’t overcrowd and be very careful when turning the meatballs. Each batch should take about 10 minutes. Move cooked meatballs onto paper towels and repeat for next batch. Once done with cooking meatballs discard the oil but leave the pan for sauce steps.
- For the sauce, heat olive oil in the pan. Heat the pan to medium heat and sauté onions for 5-10 minutes until translucent. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add in wine to pan and turn heat up to high. As wine heats up scrape all the brown bits in the pan and cook until almost all the wine is evaporated. Stir in tomatoes, parsley, salt and pepper.
- Return meatballs to pan, cover, and simmer on low heat for about 20-30 minutes. Serve with cooked spaghetti, grated Parmesan, and fresh Italian bread.
- *If not using all the meatballs for the meal, freeze the meatballs after they cool and before you place them in the sauce. The next time you make sauce throw frozen meatballs into sauce and cook for 20-30 minutes.
Source- Adapted from Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa Family Style