MEATBALLS IN TOMATO SAUCE (POLPETTE AL POMODORO) ON PASTA??!

    
    
    YES! .. . You are seeing right! Meatballs on pasta! (Shh! This is actually something that people in Italy don't do, and that Americans have assimilated in their own rendition, under the pretenses that it is "an Italian traditional plate"). Anyway, this is a blog about stress free gluten free food, so for now, just keep an open mind.. ;)
    My vision of eating meatballs on pasta actually came once again from my mom... After our dishwasher had been broken for a few months, and out of desperation being tired of washing dishes, she decided that meatballs on pasta were going to become a new tradition on the menu of our hungry family. 
After all, it all goes in the same place, and honestly, polpette on pasta make everything taste even better!
 ..And don't forget to do the "scarpetta" (as we call it in Italy meaning to mop up one's plate with bread) to collect all of the nice sauce that the meatballs leave behind in the plate!
    I hope you will enjoy my simple recipe for Italian meatballs and the tricks I have learnt along the way to make them easy, juicy and delicious without bread crumbs, or having to fry them prior to cooking in the sauce.  

MEATBALLS IN TOMATO SAUCE (POLPETTE AL POMODORO)  🍽
(Serves 6 people)
INGREDIENTS: 
For the sauce: 
  • 3 tsp of EVO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil)
  • 1 medium can of crushed or pureed tomatoes
  • 2 garlic cloves or 1/2 sliced onion (Italians usually do not like to mix these two, because one tends to cover and overpower the flavor of the other, but I am guilty of mixing them.. and liking it, too)
  • 1 tsp of cayenne pepper - to make the sauce more interesting
  • A few leaves of basil
  • salt & pepper to taste
For the meatballs:
  • 1 pound of organic free-range ground beef (it just tastes better)
  • 2 slices of your favorite GF bread
  • 1/2 cup of milk or any milk substitute
  • a teaspoon of your favorite spices (I like to incorporate cajun or creole powder)
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • 2 tbs of Parmigiano Reggiano or Grana Padano cheese (Interesting fact: if you purchased Parmesan ...well that is not really the cheese made in Italy, and though it's still ok, it should just be called Parmesan and not Parmigiano... Sorry, I am very passionate about my made in Italy products!) 
Let's get cooking...
  • In a large pot or dutch over heat up the EVO on low.
  • Chop the garlic and/or onion and brown for one minute in the oil, being careful not to burn it, as it will have to cook a while in the sauce.
  • Add the tomato sauce, salt, spices and basil, and stir.
  • Cover and simmer while you are forming the meatballs.
***
  • In a big bowl soak two slices of toasted or fresh GF bread.
  • Break it up with your fingers into tiny pieces (leave the liquid in the bowl, unless you have too much, in this case you can drain it)
  • Mix in the ground beef.
  • Add the cheese, salt, pepper, and spices
  • Mix everything by hand or with a fork
  • Start forming the meatballs in your hands by making them in a shape of a 1 1/2 inch ball. (Small meatballs make for more food to share and can be seated the following days for a stress free lunch!)
  • Uncover the pot and drop the meatballs right into the sauce (no need to roll them in bread crumbs or pre-fry them!
  • When they are all in the sauce, wait one minute before stirring them gently.
  • Cover the pot, and raise the stove to medium.
  • Cook for 30-35 minutes, stirring every so often.
  • The polpette are ready to be served on pasta, veggies, or by themselves. 
Get that scarpetta bread ready, and dig in!   
               
Options:
  • You can make vegetarian or even vegan meatballs by using beyond meat, and oat milk or almond milk, I would then skip the Parmigiano.
  • If you fancy fried meatballs, you can toast and grind some GF bread, or use prepackaged GF bread crumbs to roll them in, or you can even coat them with some GF flour prior to frying. (You can follow the same process for oven-baked meatballs, making sure you coat them with some high heat yielding oil, and bake on a lined baking sheet for 20-25 min. at 350F.)
  Buon Appetito!
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