Date night Thursday was my turn this week and since we’ve been going out so much lately I decided it was a night to cook at home. I’ve been feeling stagnant on cooking the same old things and wanted to try a new recipe. I’d recently found a recipe for Turkey Meatballs on Pintrest, which I’m obsessed with and spend much too much time on (Follow me here), so I decided to give it a go. The recipe here is adapted from recipe in Fitness Magazine. This meal what a challenge for me since I had no idea how long each of the different parts of the meal might take and I can’t tell you the last time that I boiled pasta! I used general timing in the post below so I can only ballpark the meal at under 40 minutes to make.
One of the biggest things that I want to illustrate with the recipes I post here, is that cooking doesn’t have to be a chore and it’s really not THAT hard! All you need to do is figure out what relaxes you and make it fun! A few of my “rules” for joyful cooking:
–Prep: I love using “prep” bowls (like these) when cooking so I can pre-measure all the ingredients and put the jars or containers back.
-Clean: I’m a chef that LOVES to cook as she cleans, even though we have a firm “Chef’s don’t clean” rule in our house, it just makes for a more pleasant cooking experience for the Type A clean freak that I am.
-Enjoy: I love having a glass of wine in the evening to unwind so I usually have one while I’m cooking. It is fun to work in a sip here and there in the midst of cooking where I usually resemble an octopus with my arms going every which way to wield all my pots, pans and ingredients!
-Atmosphere: Lastly, set the mood! My go-to cooking music is the soundtrack to Vicky Christina Barcelona. It just puts me in the perfect mood and makes me feel like I’m cooking in Italy! Cooking does not have to be hard or stressful, just find out what helps you to relax and enjoy the process.
Now on to the recipe! The meatballs and garlic bread parts of this recipe serve 4, but we cook the entire package of noodles which means that I always grab an extra jar of sauce to have on hand for the next few days of leftovers. I’ll try to get a few posts up about ides for using spaghetti leftovers but don’t hate me if I can’t get around to it, or, post a few that YOU know of and help a sister out!
Ingredients… Since we live so close to Pike Place market, we LOVE to walk down and get as much of our fruits and veggies as we can that are local. Every weekend we make a trip down to the market and have to stop by our favorite Italian market, DeLaurenti. They have a vast selection of amazing cheeses, meats, oils and vinegars as well as an impressive wine and spirits section. Their shelves are filled with international treats, spreads, pickled this and foie gras that with a side of your choice of Pâté. This is the long winded way of saying that this place is AMAZING and if you get a chance when you’re in Seattle you MUST visit!! Our faithful cheese counter friends have never let us down and they kept the trend with this suggestion. I explained my dish, that I’m lactose intolerant so I had to rely on their expertise without tasting (which they encourage you to do at the counter) and they came through with flying colors! The taste test report was that is was absolutely amazing and it was simply their “house grated blend” which was around $10/lb. As for the sauce, I prefer to do homemade if I have time but I didn’t this week and we opted for the Whole Foods 365 variety and it was delicious! I usually grab two since we’re sauce people and always have leftover spaghetti but no sauce so we chose the Eggplant and the Tomato Basil flavors.
Now that I’ve written a novel for you and you’re likely already starving I’ll get on to the good stuff…
- 1 large egg, beaten
- 3 tablespoons soy milk
- 1/4 cup Italian bread crumbs (Used the 365 Italian variety and it was perfect!)
- 1 pound lean ground turkey
- Sea Salt & Fresh ground pepper
- 1 jar marinara sauce (Used the 365 Eggplant and grabbed a Tomato Basil to have in the cupboard for leftovers.
- 1 package spaghetti (We used the 365 Spinach Spaghetti this time and it was delicious!)
- Parmesan cheese (Opted for the DeLaurenti grated blend Parmesan cheese for this meal)
- Dried parsley (this is a go-to spice for us, I always have it on hand and throw a pinch in each meal)
- Fresh basil, chopped, for garnish
- Minced garlic (you can use fresh, but I had a huge jar of the already minced and it worked just fine)
- 1 loaf rustic bread
- 1 bottle Red Wine of your choice (my go-to is the Folie à Deux Ménage à Trois California Red Wine- SO tasty and affordable!)
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees, and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. I usually use my misto sprayer instead of PAM to grease the pan.
- Prepare your garlic bread on a piece of aluminum foil so you will have it ready to pop in the oven later in the meal. It takes about 6-7 minutes to reach perfection so you can time it accordingly with how the rest of the meal cooks.
- Start boiling the water for the pasta. Depending on your pot this can take up to 10 minutes to achieve a good roaring boil.
- Next, you’ll make the meatballs. I tried frying mine in a pan before placing on the baking sheet since I like mine a bit crispy but it didn’t seem to make a HUGE difference in the overall crispiness so I might skip that step next time (one less pan to clean!) and see how they turn out. If you DO use a pan, you’ll really want to use the prep-bowls method and have it all ready to dump in the bowl since the pan can heat quickly at the high heat you’ll need to sear the meatballs.
- In a medium bowl, mix the eggs, soy milk breadcrumbs, salt/pepper and garlic until combined. Add the turkey and gently mix, avoid overworking the meat. Shape into balls and if you’re frying them, pop them in the pan and keep turning until most sides are seared. The meatballs are delicate, so if you’re using the pan be prepared for them to fall apart or stick to the pan just a little. Once seared, or if you’re not using the pan, place meatballs on the lined baking sheet.
- Bake meatballs in the pre-heated oven for 15 minutes.
- Pour your sauce in a small pot so you’re ready to simmer it when the times right. Since I didn’t have time to make my own we opted for the Whole Foods 365 brand Eggplant flavor. I had some extra Renegade Red Wine and poured it in to the sauce and it turned out great! Also, this is a good time to set the table with any dishes or napkins you’ll be using, chop the basil, place the strainer in the sink for the pasta, and refill the chef’s wine glass! Unless you have a sous chef, then it’s his job to assure that the chef’s glass doesn’t run dry!
- Flip meatballs when the 15 minute timer goes off and cook for an additional 4 minutes then pull out of oven.
- Your water should be boiling at some point during this process which is when you add the pasta and cover. Keeping with our 365 theme of the meal, we used the 365 Spinach Spaghetti and I cooked up the whole package so we could have leftovers. Keep the water boiling but tilt the lid of the pan off to one side and keep an eye for the water to boil up. You’ll need to stir up the noodles every minute or so to keep them from sticking.
- When you think you have about 6-7 minutes left on the noodles, place the garlic bread in the oven and start the sauce simmering, remembering to keep stirring the sauce. When you have 3 minutes left on the oven timer, place the meatballs back in the oven.
- At this point everything should be almost done and it’s just monitoring until perfection!
- I lay out a toppings bar with the Parmesan, salt and pepper grinders, garlic, olive oil and fresh chopped basil and leave it to the consumer to dish up
- Serve all this delicious food with a glass of red wine and enjoy all your hard work and marvelous cooking!!
The leftovers for lunch the next day (pictured at left) were delicious! I would have included a bit more sauce but as I said before, we’re sauce people! I got three complements before making it back to the desk on how GOOD it smelled! Considering dinner and lunch leftovers got raving reviews, that’s a WIN in my book!
And, as promised, I found a few ideas to use up the leftover spaghetti noodles. I haven’t tried any of them but I’d love comments if you guys do!
Perciatelli with Roasted Tomatoes and Eggplant (http://www.wholeliving.com/131493/perciatelli-roasted-tomatoes-and-eggplant?center=0&gallery=136702&slide=131495
Spaghetti Pizza: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/giada-de-laurentiis/pizza-di-spaghetti-recipe/index.html
Lo Mein (w/ Spaghetti Noodles) http://allrecipes.com/recipe/lo-mein-noodles/
Poached Egg Nests in Leftover Spaghetti- simply heat the noodles, take a fork and swirl them into a pile that has a nice little center and poach and egg in the center
Spaghetti Pancake: http://www.teaandcookiesblog.com/2007/08/what-to-do-with-leftover-spaghetti.html