Meatballs Arrabiata

meatballs

Arrabiata=Angry=Spicy=Endorphins=Want More

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Bonnie Published by
  • Meatballs
  • 2 lb. 90% lean ground beef
  • 1/3 loaf old bread
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 to 1 cup milk
  • 2/3 cup freshly chopped basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup ground flaxseed
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Pinch or two of red pepper flakes
  • 1 bunch green garlic*

  • Marinara
  • 2 yellow onions, choppped
  • 1 bunch green garlic*
  • 2 cans San Marzano style tomatoes
  • 1 cup freshly chopped basil leaves
  • Pinch or two of red pepper flakes
  • 4 T olive oil
  • 1-2 cups leftover red wine
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 lb. whole wheat angel hair pasta

When we used to live in industrial southeast Texas (God love it), I needed all the comfort food I could get. This was my go-to recipe for contentment in the cancer capital, especially on days when the pollution/heat/humidity were overwhelming. I’d get home from work, hole myself up in the little kitchen, and fill the house with the aroma of garlic and tomatoes and herbs. Then Mr. Trent and I would pile our plates high and watch a Harry Potter movie. Ahhh. Happiness on a plate, and they’re even better reheated the next day at work. Using the lean beef and whole wheat/high fiber pasta makes these guilt free (if you can restrain yourself from going back for second or third helpings, which I often cannot).

The How-To

Preheat oven to 350*. Take meat out of fridge and let sit at room temperature while you prepare marinara. In a large pot over medium heat, saute onions and green garlic with a pinch of salt in 4 T. olive oil until soft. Add red pepper flake and San Marzano style tomatoes with juice. Pummel tomatoes with a wooden spoon until broken up, and bring to a simmer. Add basil and red wine, and simmer for 20-30 minutes (or until meatballs are done), stirring occasionally. Put pasta water on to boil.

Tear old bread into pieces and soak in 1/2 to 1 cup milk (you may need a bit more, depending on the kind of bread you use) in a large mixing bowl until soft (usually about 10 minutes). Squeeze excess milk from bread and break into crumbs with your fingers. Mix in oil, ground flaxseed, garlic, herbs, cheese, salt and peppers until well incorporated. The last thing to be mixed is the ground beef itself, which should be less cold by now. Break the meat apart with a fork, and, using your hands, GENTLY toss the ground beef with the bread/cheese/herb mixture. Do not squeeze/pound/knead/obliterate meatball mixture or meatballs will be dense instead of tender. If the meat is being stubborn about breaking apart, then grab your fork again. Once well mixed, roll into balls (about 3 T of mixture per meatball) and space evenly on a foil-lined baking sheet. Should yield about 24-26 meatballs, enough for 5-6 hungry folks. Bake at 350* for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, back to the marinara. If you want a smooth sauce, now is the time to grab your immersion blender or puree in batches in food processor/what-have-you. Continue to reduce sauce over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally. When meatballs are done, transfer them to a baking dish (Pyrex or the like), cover with about 4 cups of your marinara and return to oven for 10-15 more minutes. Cook pasta according to package directions, and mix in with extra marinara sauce before serving with meatballs. Top with more freshly grated parmesan and a fat glass of red wine.

A Note or Two or Five

The last time I made these, I used grass-fed beef from Bastrop (purchased at Wheatsville Co-op) and they were sooooo good. Definitely recommend it, but you could also use ground lamb (will not need oil in mixture) or bison.

To make the most of the time I put into these, I’ll double the meatball recipe and freeze half of them.  The next time I get a hankerin’, I just defrost and bake.

DO NOT use fresh bread for meatballs. When you add the milk, it turns back to dough instead of soft crumbs. Trust me, I learned the hard way. I find that leftover whole wheat sandwich bread really works best.

I usually end up with a cup or two of extra marinara that I simply can’t bring myself to throw out. Just add a cup or so of pasta water or chicken stock and VOILA! Instant tomato soup that you can freeze for later.

*Green garlic is in season at the moment, and I’ve been receiving two bunches in every box from my CSA. It looks similar to green onions, but tastes of garlic instead. You can, of course, substitute 4-6 cloves regular garlic, minced/grated/pressed, plus 4-6 T. freshly chopped parsley for each bunch called for in the recipe.

Variations on a Theme

Not a fan of spicy? Simply leave out the red pepper flakes. No time to make your own marinara? Just find a good low-sodium organic jar on the shelf at the grocery store. Be careful, as lots of pre-made sauces have tons of sugar and salt added to them. I always read the label!

10 Responses to “Meatballs Arrabiata”

  • davatron5000:

    can’t wait to have this. alomahora kitchen! accio food!

  • Bonnie:

    My corporeal patronus would be a plate of these meatballs.

  • Meghan McGuire:

    Bon Bon…I don’t have a very high tolerance for spice (ok I can barely tolerate black pepper) so could I leave out the pepper flakes when making these? They look so absolutely yummy I want to make them pronto but without the pain. haha

  • Meghan McGuire:

    Ok please ignore my message, I just saw “Variations on a Theme” hahahaha

  • Bonnie:

    Hahaha. YES! They’re still delicious without the pepper flakes. Trent’s mom is the same way, so I always try to have that option on any spicy recipes I do! :)

  • Pam:

    please please please make this soon!!!!!! it sounds so yummy

  • Pam:

    accio?? Is that HP?

  • Bonnie:

    Apparate to the nearest copy of Goblet of Fire.

  • John Odum:

    As soon as I saw this recipe’s picture I knew I was going to love this website.

  • April Allen:

    Bonnie..these are amazing! As was the chicken empanada (did I spell that right?)recipe! SO GOOD.