Spaghetti and Meatballs

For Valentine’s Day dinner, I decided to make my sweetie some good and hearty Spaghetti and Meatballs. We stayed in  because nothing could be more impersonal than trying to shout at each other in a crowded restaurant on V-day, and because what can be more simple, rustic, and romantic to eat than a plate of spaghetti and meatballs (just watch Disney’s Lady and the Tramp!)? It took me three hours to grocery shop for this because I was navigating the unfamiliar terrain of Shaw’s, the grocery store near my bf’s place in Boston, and I was still trying to stick to buying the freshest ingredients possible. In the end, I settled for “vegetarian” fed beef – (aka … still corn fed, probably, but at least no animal parts in their feed!), and Applegate farms bacon. No pastured eggs or farmer’s market in such short notice, so I settled on what I could find. The meatballs turned out pretty fantastic – moist and savory. I created this based off of a combination of different recipes – this is one that I will definitely make again. Plus, you have tons of leftovers that can be kept for meals the rest of the week (or frozen for longer storage!).

Meatballs:

1 lb. ground beef (90% lean)

3 -4 slices bacon

1/2 tbsp. ground marjoram

ground italian seasonings (~1/2 tsp. rosemary, thyme, pepper, onion)

dash of onion flakes

1/2 onion

1/2 c. roasted red pepper, finely chopped & drained

3 cloves garlic

1/2 tsp sea salt

1/4 tsp ground black pepper

1 egg, beaten

1/2 c. bread crumbs (I used italian seasoned bread crumbs)

1/4 c. finely grated parmesan cheese

Sauce:

1 jar of your favorite marinara (I used a spicy marinara for some extra kick)

1/2 onion, minced

1 clove garlic, minced

italian seasonings (or a few pinches of rosemary, thyme, pepper, garlic)

extra roasted red pepper (maybe 1/8 to 1/4 c. finely chopped)

2-3 slices of bacon, finely chopped

a few splashes white wine

To make the meatballs:

Place bacon with garlic and onion (chopped into a few chunks) in a food processor and process until the mixture becomes a coarsely chopped paste. Combine in a large bowl with remaining ingredients and mix well. Let mixture sit for 15 minutes (start making the sauce – see below), then form into golf-ball sized balls and place on a cookie sheet covered with aluminum foil. Broil for 20 minutes (10 minutes on each side). Set aside.

Make the sauce:

Heat up bacon in a hot pan to render out the fat, then add onion, garlic, and seasonings. Saute until onions are translucent, and then deglaze the pan with a few splashes of white wine (get all of the brown bits from the bottom of the pan for flavor). Add in marinara and roasted red pepper, bring to a simmer and keep warm until meatballs are finished above.

Finish and assemble the dish:

Place sauce in a large rectangular casserole dish and add meatballs. The meatballs should not be covered in the sauce -the sauce should come up about halfway:

Sprinkle additional parmesan cheese on each meatball, and broil for another 5-10 minutes or until cheese has melted and the tops of the meatballs are browned.

Serve with al dente pasta (I used organic fettuccine). Eat and enjoy!

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