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!).
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 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
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!