I always talk about my Greek side, but I'm also a quarter Italian. My great grandparents came from Naples, Italy and only spoke Italian. My grandfather always told me stories about how they didn't have much, but they sure had great food to eat. Bread was always on the table, and you would NEVER, ever dream of buying store bought pasta sauce. It was made from scratch, and by "scratch" I mean they crushed their own tomatoes that they grew in their victory garden.
Nicole is also Italian, and when she came over to teach me how to cook she decided that once of her recipes would be Italian meatballs and sauce. It is so simple and SO good. After we finished cooking I ate spoonfuls of pasta sauce. SPOONFULS!
HERB MEATBALLS by Nicole Lee
1-pound high quality grass fed ground beef (NOTE: its super important to get a good quality meat because they will simply not come out great) you will end up with not so great meatballs, and I really don’t want that to happen to you)
½ cup to 1 cup of bread crumbs (these can be store bought or you can make your own) I like the gluten free panko ones if you store buy them
2 whole fresh Eggs
1 bunch of fresh basil, slices and roughly chopped
1 bunch of fresh oregano chopped
A good pinch of salt and pepper (to taste)
1-2 garlic cloves depending on your own liking
1/2 cup fresh parmesan, romano or asiago cheese (you can omit if you have a dairy allergy)
Also a bowl, parchment paper lined on a cookie sheet
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Chop your herbs and garlic set aside. In your bowl place the meat, herbs, garlic, salt pepper, eggs and breadcrumbs (cheese if no dairy allergy). With your hands mix well, really get in there, you will know it is fully incorporated when the mixture does not feel slimy and you cant see egg anymore. If it is too runny add in about a tablespoon more of breadcrumbs. Then mix more with your hands. Once Fully combined, roll into about 1 to 1 ½ inch thick balls and place on your lined parchment paper. Do your best to get each meatball the same size. This way they will cook evenly. When you finish place in the oven for 12 min, turning half way. You know they are done when they are slightly golden on the outside. Trust your gut on this one; if they don’t look done they aren’t, if you over do it you will certainly know! If 12 min hits and aren’t golden, let them cook for about 5-6 min longer. It’s really helpful to set a timer. In the meantime you can make the sauce.
SIMPLE TOMATO SAUCE with Blanco Dinapoli tomatoes by Nicole Lee
Note: I am stressing ingredients but the only way this dish will succeed is if you use the best, spend slightly more but your taste buds will surely thank you. Get the best tomatoes for the best tomato sauce. You can buy Blanco Dinapoli tomatoes at Whole Foods.
1 can of Blanco Dinapoli Crushed tomatoes ( or pomi brand work great)
1 bunch of fresh basil
1 bunch of fresh oregano
Kosher Salt and Pepper to taste
1-2 cloves of garlic
Good quality everyday olive oil, (California ranch is great for high heat)
1 saucepan and wooden spoon
Chop all your ingredients and set a side. Heat your saucepan over medium heat. Heat the garlic and watch wait until it looks almost brown, this will take about 2 min. Then add in your crushed tomatoes. Let this reduce for 5-10 min; add in your salt pepper, basil and oregano. Stir in and let cook for another 5-10 min. Then taste, add in a pinch of salt and fresh ground pepper, mix and taste. If it’s too acidic add in a teaspoon of honey. This will help tame it down. Once finished, add in your cooked Meatballs , Serve with or without freshly grated Pecorino Romano or parmesan cheese!