I can't think of spaghetti and meatballs without the image of Tramp nudging a meatball towards Lady with his nose. "This is the Night" starts playing, and before you know it, everyone's accidentally kissing after slurping the same piece of pasta. Spaghetti and meatballs are an icon of Americana cuisine. It's immediately nostalgic, even if you didn't grow up eating it. So for my mom-approved version, I snuck extra vegetables and leafy greens into the tomato sauce and made bison meatballs with a touch of kale and quinoa instead of breadcrumbs. The results are delicious and classic, and you'll be able to pass this plate by even the pickiest eater.
||To get that perfect balance of pasta and sauce you want to make sure a little water is still clinging to the pasta. Use this fabulous pasta colander to lightly dry off the pasta, but without losing that amazing pasta water! Open Kitchen Stainless Steel Colander, $18, Williams-Sonoma.
1 batch of meatballs
1/2 recipe simple pasta sauce (or 2 cups of your favorite)
1/4 cup basil, cut into long, thin strips
12 ounces whole wheat or quinoa spaghetti
|For the meatballs:
2 tablespoons dry quinoa
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
1/4 cup finely chopped kale or broccoli florets
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 1/2 pounds ground bison (or lean grass fed beef)
1 1/2 tablespoons wholegrain mustard
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup milk
olive oil, for cooking
||For the pasta sauce:
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 celery rib, peeled and chopped
1 cup finely chopped kale
1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes
1 teaspoon tomato paste
2 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh basil
salt and pepper to taste
1. To make the sauce, over medium-high, heat up oil, garlic, carrots, celery and oregano. Cook 30 seconds.
2. Add kale, tomatoes, and tomato paste. Cook 5 min, add basil and cook for another 5 minutes.
3. Using an immersion blender (or just pour the mixture into a blender), and puree the sauce.
4. Season to taste with salt and pepper, set aside.
5. For the meatballs, to make sure all of the ingredients are evenly distributed, mix together all of the dry ingredients, add herbs, kale, and garlic, then the bison and wet ingredients.
6. Gently blend the ingredients together using your fingertips, and then form into 2-inch balls (don't compact the meatballs too much, otherwise they'll be dense and dry).
7. Heat up a large pan over medium-high heat. Add a few tablespoons of olive oil to coat, and drop in the meatballs.
8. Cook each side (there'll be about 4) for about 2-3 minutes until they are a deep golden brown.
9. It's ok if they're not fully cooked through, as they'll fully cook in the sauce. If you're not cooking them in the sauce, then cook them over medium heat for 3-4 minutes per side.
10. While the meatballs are cooking, reheat your sauce over medium heat in a saucepan.
11. Pour the sauce over the meatballs (it should almost cover them), turn the heat down low to a simmer, and cook for 10 minutes, until the meatballs are fully cooked and the sauce has reduced a little.
12. Add the basil, and stir to combine.
13. Cook your pasta per manufacturer's instructions, until al dente.
14. Scoop the pasta with a slotted spoon directly into the meatballs and sauce.
15. Stir for a minute until the pasta has soaked up a bit of the sauce and serve.
16. Add some of your favorite grated cheese if you like.
For more dinner ideas and inspiration, head to The Kitchy Kitchen.
Photographs: Claire Thomas