Sunday, January 9, 2011


Hubby and I are tomato sauce snobs.  We don't ever buy jarred sauce for spaghetti.  It's not that hard to make it from scratch, and we think homemade tastes better.  Sauce and meatballs freeze so easily, too, so it's worth it to make a large batch.  My freezer always has containers of sauce and meatballs, waiting to be thawed out and enjoyed.

The Sunday afternoon armchair quarterbacks chowed down on meatball sandwiches, and we enjoyed a Penne Pasta dinner from this batch before I froze the remainder.  Try some homemade tomato sauce and meatballs and see if you don't agree that it's easy and delicious.
Judy's Tomato Sauce and Meatballs 
Bear Rating:  9 out of 10

1.5 oz. sun-dried tomatoes, not packed in oil
1/2 cup water
2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 cup cup chopped sweet onion (1 small)
1 Tbsp. minced garlic
1 (28 oz.) can crushed or whole tomatoes
1 (6 oz.) can plain tomato paste
1 (15-1/2 oz.) can Contadina Italian-style tomato sauce
1 roasted red pepper, chopped
1 (14-1/2 oz.) can low-sodium chicken broth
2-3 cups water, to bring sauce to desired thickness
1/4 tsp. crushed anise seed
1 Tbsp. crushed dried basil (or 1/4 cup fresh, chopped)
1/2 tsp. crushed dried oregano
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley

Heat the 1/2 cup water in microwave in small bowl on high till boiling.  Add the dried tomatoes and steep for 15-30 minutes.  Chop.

In large heavy stock pot, saute the onion in the oil over medium heat till onions wilt.  Add garlic and saute another minute.  Add all the ingredients plus the reconstituted dried tomatoes.  Puree with an immersion blender till smooth and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered while you make the meatballs.

1 lb. each:  ground pork, veal and beef
(Harris Teeter has ground veal; if you cannot get it, substitute beef.)
1 tsp. sea salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
2 large eggs
1 Tbsp. minced garlic
1/4 tsp. crushed anise seed  (you won't taste this in the sauce, but it adds a sweetness)
1/3 cup imported Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
1 cup Italian-style breadcrumbs
1/2 tsp. dried basil (or 2 tsp. fresh, chopped)
1/2 cup freshly chopped parsley
1/4 cup water

In 9x13 pan, spread out meat.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Break the eggs over the meat and sprinkle all the remaining ingredients over the eggs.  Gently mix with 2 forks or with your hands, being careful not to over handle the meat but also being sure you mix everything thoroughly.  Pour a little olive oil into a small dish and rub your hands in it.  Shape the meat mixture into balls with oiled hands, and reapply the oil as needed to make the job easier.  You can bake the meatballs in the oven @350F for about a half hour before adding them to the sauce, or you can brown them gently in a large heavy fry pan coated with olive oil before adding them.  After you add them to the sauce, let them simmer, covered, for at least 1/2 hour or up to 1-1/2 hours.  Be sure you scrape and stir the bottom of the pot so the sauce doesn't burn at the bottom.  You can feed 6-10 people with this pot, or freeze containers of sauce with meatballs.  Serve with pasta of choice.  We prefer penne pasta because the sauce clings to the ridges.  Buy a nice chunk of Locatelli Romano cheese at Harris Teeter to grate over the top of the pasta.

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