After a couple months of freakishly lovely weather, the rain has finally arrived in northern California. No complaints here. We needed it, for sure. And I am actually loving the opportunity to nest a bit. Cozy time inside, enjoying some good old-fashioned comfort food.
When it comes to comfort food, spaghetti & meatballs have always been a household favorite. There is something about it that warms you up, particularly on those chilly, soaked-to-the-bone kind of days.
Our recipes for the sauce and meatballs have definitely evolved over the years. We have lightened them up a bit, opting for turkey and brown rice in the meatballs and fresh tomatoes for the sauce. Nothing fancy. Just simple ingredients – the way that comfort food is supposed to be.
When it comes to tomatoes, red is much more than a pretty color. What you are actually seeing in that dazzling red is lycopene, a powerful antioxidant proven to protect cells from harmful, often cancer-causing, free radical damage. Tomatoes lead the fruit & veggie pack when it comes to lycopene, offering a valuable source of this health-enhancing nutrient.
1 egg white
1 small onion, finely chopped
¾ pound ground turkey
¾ pound ground pork
1 cup cooked brown rice
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, freshly grated
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
Freshly ground pepper to taste
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees with the rack in the top third of the oven.
- Lightly beat the eggs in a large bowl. Add the onion, turkey, pork, rice, cheese, salt and parsley. Add pepper to taste. Gently mix together.
- Roll the turkey/pork mixture into small balls about 2 inches in diameter. Place on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Place in the oven and cook for 20-25 minutes or until the meatballs are no longer pink inside.
- Give your meatballs a dunk in your sauce before serving or enjoy them all on their own.
Yields 30 meatballs – give or take 1 or 2.
SIMPLE TOMATO SAUCE
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
3 lbs ripe tomatoes, quartered
¾ tablespoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoons salt
- Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions. Continue cooking until they start to soften and become translucent.
- Add the garlic, tomatoes, red pepper flakes and salt, stir well. Bring to a simmer, cover and reduce the heat to medium-low. Continue to simmer until the sauce begins to thicken, about 20-30 minutes. Remove from the heat (kitchen note: cooking time could be longer for juicier tomatoes and the longer you cook, the sweeter the sauce will be).
- Run the tomato mixture through your food processor or blender. You will most likely need to do this in batches to avoid over filling (kitchen note: if you are using a blender, remove the small cap in the lid and cover with a clean cloth or dish towel – allowing a bit of air in will keep the hot ingredients from exploding). Puree to your desired consistency or skip this step all together. I generally lean towards chunky but it is all about your personal preference.
- Return to your saucepan. Try a taste to see if you might need a bit more salt, pepper or red pepper flakes.
- Serve over a high-fiber pasta like spelt, whole wheat or brown rice.
Yields 4-5 cups of very freezable sauce.