Saturday, November 27, 2010
Rushina's Recipe - The best Spaghetti and Meatballs EVER!
I ended up making these a while ago, out whatever I had at home and pure creativity. But they turned out so well, that they are now a regular feature on my menu.
Last week I got back from Delhi after a work trip for Nature's Basket and vegetated most of the day of my return. So by evening I was in the mood to cook up something yummy but being still sleepy, I wanted to do something relatively fuss free. So I cooked up a big batch of these hearty Spaghetti and meatballs. It is slightly fidly, but it has vegetables, chicken and pasta so its a whole meal in a bowl, that the kids love, plus you end up with a big pot of meatballs in tomato sauce that allows for freezing some or using it in other ways later. Like I did - as always I made double the recipe and kept the pasta separate, so I could use the saucy meatballs to make hearty Ciabatta sandwiches for brunch the next day, fortified with lettuce salad, and zinged up with BBQ and Sriracha sauces. I don’t normally push people to do this but for this recipe, use the Italian canned tomatoes, they are less acidic than Indian ones and lend the most fabulous flavour and color to the dish.
For the Sauce
½ c extra virgin olive oil
4 onions finely chopped
1 head garlic finely chopped
1 Zuchini finely chopped
2 red peppers finely chopped
1 kg can Italian plum tomatoes (I used Cirio)
1 tbsp chilli garlic paste (if using fresh use 2 tbsp and add before tomatoes)
Salt to taste (about ½ tsp and taste since you will be adding salted pasta water)
½ tsp sugar
1/3 c cheese, grated
400g. Chicken mince
2 tbsp sautéed onion (take out of cooking onions for sauce)
½ cup coriander, finely chopped
1 tbsp chilli garlic paste (if using fresh use 2 tbsp)
Capellini or Spaghetti 1 pkt cooked
I had a packed of Cappilleni (which literally translates to ‘fine hair’ and is a finer version of spaghetti, close to angel hair AND most importantly my favourite pasta for recipes that require spaghetti) so I put water on to boil. I then pulled out my biggest pasta pot and set it on a low flame and poured in a generous measure of olive oil.
While it was warming up I quickly finely diced up a few onions and added them to the pot, giving them a quick stir so they were all suitably covered in oil and left them to sweat. Meanwhile I finely diced the lone green zucchini (skin and all) that had been languishing in the fridge (after I used its companions up in the Thai curry of last week) and two colored peppers to complete my improvised mirepois (a mirepois is a classic French cooking trick that calls for white onion, orange carrot and green celery to be stir fried together. It is a classic step in a lot of sauces.) I find it really works to enhance the flavour in any dish.
So I left that to sweat (not fry, just gently sweat) while I prepped the meat for my meat balls. To the mince I added a few tablespoons of softened onions I had harvested from the lot I sweated for my sauce, lots LOTS of garlic, coriander, and a little salt.
My pasta was done at this point so I let the mince rest while I drained it, reserving the pasta water. I also added a generous tablespoon of my homemade chilli garlic paste and a can of Italian peeled Italian plum tomatoes to my sauce. (All those chefs that tell you that canned Italian tomatoes are good for a tomato based sauce? They are spot on!)
And I was back to my mince, added some of my chilli garlic paste, cracked in an egg, added some toasted pistachio powder and gave it another good mix. The sauce was boiling away and smelling fabulous by now. I doubled its volume by adding the reserved pasta water so my meatballs would have enough space to breathe and let it boil some more. Once it was bubbling away I began to add the meat balls. I cook a lot of meatballs so I am pretty good at shaping them with a spoon and soon I had a generous lot of them in the pot. I grated in some cheese, lowered flame, went back to computer and forgot about it for a while.
When I came back, the kitchen smelt fabulous, the sauce was a beautiful red flecked with green because of the Zucchini and had thickened to a luscious consistency with a film of red tinted oil on top. Later, it passed the taste test as well. I served out the Capellini topped with the meatball sauce and they were perfect with the meatballs, their thinness making them easier to manipulate around a fork and resulting in a better (read lesser) ratio of pasta to meatball.