I like meatballs. I like spaghetti and meatballs. Most of all, I like dinners that I can put some time and effort into once, and enjoy a few times. On weeknights I try to be ambitious with dinner, but there are few things I love more than having a tasty, homemade, fall back plan. This is it. Dead simple.
So on an evening when I have a bit of time on my hands, and some Food Network to keep me company as I cook, I make a big batch of meatballs, freeze most, and steal a few for our evening feast. The sauce is the last step, and is shockingly easy and tasty for such minimal effort. You may question the outcome when I tell you how easy it is. Trust me and try it. The result is a fresh, delicious, perfectly seasoned, simple tomato sauce. And did I mention only one dish to dirty for cooking both the sauce and the meatballs? Three cheers!
(makes approximately 20-25 meatballs depending on size)
2 lbs ground turkey (I often mix half white meat and half dark, but either will work)
1 onion, very finely diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup Italian parsley, finely chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
1 cup fine breadcrumbs
1 cup parmigiano reggiano, finely grated
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp kosher salt
generous amount of freshly ground black pepper
Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl until well combined. Use hands to form approximately 2 inch meatballs and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. If you plan to use some for dinner immediately, set them aside for the next step. For the rest, cover them with parchment and place the tray in the freezer. Once frozen, these can be stored in serving portions in freezer bags. We usually serve two meatballs per person for dinner.
Simple Tomato Sauce
Serves 2 (and 1/2)
1 large (28 fl oz) can of San Marzano tomatoes, hand crushed
8 whole basil leaves
1 clove of garlic, crushed
tbsp extra virgin olive oil
pinch of oregano
generous pinch of kosher salt
generous crank of freshly ground pepper
pinch of chili flakes (optional if you like a little heat)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine all ingredients in an oven safe porcelain baking dish with a lid and gently mix. Once mixed, place fresh or frozen meatballs directly into the sauce so that they are covered. With the lid on, bake for 45 minutes to an hour (depending on whether you are cooking them from fresh or frozen). Alternately, these can be done stove top by placing the sauce and meatballs into a covered deep sauce pan or dutch oven and slowly simmering them until they are cooked through.
Serve on perfectly cooked al dente spaghetti with a generous helping of freshly grated parmigiano reggiano, or pecorino romano.
Now just imagine a lazy evening where all you have to do is throw together a can of tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, seasoning, and some meatballs from the freezer, into a dish that gets tossed into the oven and comes out done like dinner. You’re welcome.