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Baked Meatballs with Tomato Basil Sauce

January 6, 2017

When I was a kid, my go-to food of choice was spaghetti and meatballs. As a grownup, if I’m in need of comfort — you know, those evenings when you want to curl up on the couch with a bowl of spaghetti on your lap and watch a familiar movie — I still want the same thing. And while ordering take-out spag and meatballs is fine, this version is amazingly easy to make. The light tomato basil sauce doesn’t require lengthy cooking to coax out its fresh flavor. While the sauce simmers, your mood will perk up, too. How could it not, with the tantalizing aroma wafting around your kitchen?

Baked Meatballs with Tomato Basil Sauce Recipe

For the Meatballs:

1 cup stale, crusty bread, torn into chunks

1 cup whole milk, or substitute with unsweetened coconut milk if you prefer

1 lb ground pork

1 lb ground beef

3 eggs, beaten

4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

1 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 cup fresh Italian parsley leaves, minced

1 tsp sea salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

Heat oven to 375°F.

Place bread in bowl with milk and let absorb for several minutes. Squeeze liquid from bread and discard. Tear bread into 1/4 inch pieces.

Add remaining meatball ingredients to bowl and using hands, squeeze gently to incorporate and mix well. Moisten hands with water and roll mixture into large balls about two inches in diameter. Place on rimmed baking sheet. There should be about 15-20 meatballs.

Bake meatballs for 20 minutes, or until lightly browned. Remove from oven until sauce is ready.

For the Tomato Basil Sauce

3 T olive oil

1 red onion, diced

6 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced

2 – 28 oz cans tomato purée

2 – 28 oz cans tomato sauce

1 – 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes

1 cup dry red wine

2 T Italian seasoning

1 cup fresh basil leaves, rinsed and dried

1 lb spaghetti

In large, heavy Dutch oven or pot, sauté onions until they begin to soften and are lightly browned. Add garlic and sauté for one minute to release fragrance.

Add tomato purée, sauce, diced tomatoes, wine and seasoning. Bring to boil then reduce heat to simmer. Let cook covered for 20 minutes. Add meatballs to sauce, replace lid and continue simmering on low heat for 20 minutes. Add basil leaves to pot and simmer for 10 minutes.

Remove basil leaves from pot. Serve sauce and meatballs over spaghetti.

Buon appetito!

Raise your hand if you don't like spaghetti and meatballs. Nope? I didn't think so. Pretty much everyone is in love with this favorite comfort food. Tuck into this easy-to-prepare bowl of pasta, meatballs and tomatoey sauce.

Raise your hand if you don’t like spaghetti and meatballs. I don’t see any hands raised! Pretty much everyone is in love with this favorite, Italian comfort food. Tuck into this easy-to-prepare bowl of pasta, meatballs and tomatoey sauce.

dei-rosso-di-montepulcianoStephanie Davis, my go-to wine educator, thinks that on a snowy day like today, whether you’re sledding with your kids, helping your elderly neighbor shovel snow or staying tucked under a quilt with a good novel, spaghetti and meatballs always satisfies and warms you up. Over the holidays, Steph sampled the Rosso di Montalcino, a blend of Sangiovese, Canaiolo Nero and Merlot grapes from Dei. It was an excellent wine to have on hand when there’s good food, great friends and no fuss. It’s not fussily priced, either, at $18/bottle.

Did you enjoy cooking this recipe? If so, please share! And thank you!

Award-winning author Emily Kemme writes about human nature, illuminating the everyday in a way that highlights its brilliance. Follow her on her blog, Feeding the Famished,  https://www.facebook.com/EmilyKemme, or on Twitter @EmFeedsYou . Life inspired. Vodka tempered.

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