Friday, July 16, 2010

Fettuccine and Meatballs


No, this is not a gourmet’s delight but it sure does sub well in a pinch.
Tonight I tossed together a fast pasta dinner. I always keep a couple of bottles of ready made pasta sauce in my cupboard that can quickly become dinner. It seems to be the theme these days. A full and busy day followed up with a fast ready made starter and “viola”, a delicious and satisfying dinner.

If I had access to a can of San Marzano tomatoes (that are naturally sweet and taste just like fresh tomatoes) available here in my home town, I would recommend that as a starting point. But it is like a rare treasure here and impossible to find, yet I have found it dirt cheap in NYC, California and everywhere else. I am guilty of stuffing my suit case with these precious cans and hauling them home.
Most of the bottle sauces are too sweet and finding one that is not and available in your area can take a bit of research. For the low end sauce I like Classico Tomato & Basil Pasta Sauce or the Tradition Old Style Ragu and for the best fresh out of the bottle experience get Dave’s Gourmet or Rao’s Tomato Basil Marinara and if you are a purest get a box of Pomi tomato sauce. All of them need a little jazzing up with onions, garlic, red pepper flakes, mushrooms, basil etc… but make for a great starting point.
I blindly threw together the Perfect Meatball recipe. And with the assistance of a small retractable ice cream scoop, I packed and plopped the meatballs into a large non stick skillet over med heat. Turning the meatballs as needed with a tong to brown them on all sides. Then I removed them and set them on the side. They weren’t fully cooked, but that is fine. I will finish cooking them in the sauce.
In the same pan I added a whole onion sliced thin with a couple of cloves of garlic in a little olive oil and cooked them until the onions were soft and caramelized. Then I added back the meatballs and a bottle of sauce and let it simmer covered over med-low heat for about 15 minutes. The meatballs were small so that’s all it took to get them cooked through.
While the meatballs were cooking I started the pasta and by the time the pasta was done so were the meatballs. I used a long tong to fish my pasta out of the pot allowing the pasta water to drip off most of the pasta before adding it to the sauce with the meatballs. It is important to add a little of the salty starchy pasta water to your sauce to thin it out and thicken it at the same time (???) It just works… and this is my way of accomplishing the draining of the pasta and reserving some pasta water to add to the sauce later part. And the bonus is that you don’t have to wash the strainer.
I tossed the pasta with the sauce and topped it with grated parmesan. Delish!
The rule is; one pound of pasta to one jar of sauce which is usually about 3 ½ to 4 cups of sauce.

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