Sometimes I’m at a loss for what to make for dinner and I stare into the open maw of the refrigerator with the hope that inspiration will strike. This recipe came from one such occasion. This past week I found some left over tomato sauce, a couple of cups of a weak chicken “broth” I had saved when I poached some chicken, a small amount of grated onions and a bin of sliced mushrooms reaching a point of no return. The cupboard yielded a bit of Israeli couscous plus some seasonings.
I’m rather happy with the result.
Recipe under the cut
We don’t eat much red meat. While it is tasty it also isn’t the healthiest thing. Turkey meatballs are OK however they lack a certain meatiness. Adding some ground pork and a Parmesan added some additional flavor. The spinach is just sneak a vegetable in where no vegetable really belongs. 🙂
These won the praise of adults and children alike this past Saturday night.
Servings: 30-35 meatballs
Prep time: 30 minutes
Total time: 90 minutes
- 10 oz frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained of all liquid
- 2 pkg. ground turkey (~40 oz. total)
- 1 pkg ground pork (~16 oz. total)
- 3 slices hearty white bread, converted to fresh bread crumbs (see Notes)
- 4 tbsp fresh parsley
- 1 cup Parmesan Cheese
- cracked black pepper
- 2 large egg, beaten with a fork
- olive oil
- Place thawed spinach in a clean dish towel. Take up the four corners of the towel in one hand and twist the “ball” of the cloth (holding the spinach) to squeeze out excess liquid. Marvel at how much liquid is trapped in the frozen spinach. When you’ve released as much of the water as you can transfer the spinach to a large bowl. Break apart the ball of spinach with your fingers.
- To the bowl add the turkey and pork, about two-thirds of the bread crumbs, the parsely, Parmesan and black pepper. Using your hands mix everything in the bowl until it is a well combined mixture. Pour the beaten eggs over the mixture and incorporate into the mix.
- Make a test meatball with about a ¼ cup of the mixture. Time for a judgment call; is it too wet? If you think so add about half of the remaining bread crumbs, mix to combine and make another test meatball. If it is still seems too wet then add the remaining bread crumbs, mix and continue. If they seem fine then save the bread crumbs for another time and move on to the next step.
- Using a disher that holds approx. ¼ cup, scoop up the mixture and place them on a half sheet pan. Once all the meatballs have been scooped pick up each meatball pucks and form them into balls. Once all the meatballs have been formed placed the sheet pan in the refrigerator for 15-30 minutes.
- When you are ready to cook heat a dutch oven or non-stick skillet over low heat. Add 1 Tbsp. of olive oil to the pan and allow it to heat up. When oil is hot about a ¼ of the meatballs to the pan. Cook on low, turning periodically so that all side get browned. When all the sides are brown check the temp with an instant read thermometer. Once you hit 150°F transfer the meatballs to a dish lined with paper towels. Cook the remaining the meatballs following the same method.
- Once you’ve started the next batch of meatballs you can transfer the ones resting on a paper towel to a dutch oven with a bit of tomato sauce in it. Allow the meatballs to simmer on super-low while you cook the remaining meatballs.
For fresh bread crumbs tear the bread into pieces, crust and all, and place it in a food processor fitted with the whirling blades of destruction. Put in the cover and pulse 6 or 7 times until you get a small crumb of bread.
Back to normal this week with most of our friends joining us for dinner. Since there is more yard work than time in the Spring I wanted something I could mostly ignore until closer to dinner.
Slow-cooker Tomato Sauce
Green salad with radishes, roasted red peppers and lemon vinaigrette
Popovers with assorted jams, jellies and perserves
Notes under the cut
This recipe is an amalgam of my own experience making quick tomato sauce and a few recipes I found online for using the slow-cooker for the task. I wanted a large batch of sauce so that I could use some to cook meatball and still have the majority be plain tomato sauce.
Slow-Cooker Tomato Sauce
Servings: ~8 cups of sauce
Prep time: 20 minutes
Total time: 6.5 hours
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 cup onion, small dice (this was 2 medium onions for me)
- 5 cloves garlic, crushed
- 2 29 oz. can Hunts Tomato Sauce
- 4 15 oz. cans Hunts diced tomatoes
- 6 oz. tomato paste
- 1 Tbsp fresh rosemary
- 1/2 cup red wine (I used Coppola Rosso Red Table Wine)
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp fine-ground black pepper
- 2 Tbsp. brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp. red chili pepper flake
- 1 Tbsp fresh oregano
- 2 Tbsp. butter
- chiffonade of fresh basil
- Combine all the ingredients except oregano, butter and basil in your slow cooker insert. I used the wine to thin out the tomato paste, making it easier to incorporate the paste into the sauce.
- Cover and cook on low for 3 hours. Stir occasionally. Remove the cover and continue to cook on low for another 3 hours. If the sauce appears to be drying out re-cover. There’s more liquid in there than you realize.
- Remove 3 cups of sauce to a blender and puree. Return pureed sauce to the pot. Add oregano and butter, stir to combine.
- Add fresh chopped basil to the finished sauce.
I have a pet-peeve around recipes that list a generic item, such as red wine, when they could be more specific. There are only about 3 bazillion different red wines in the world. You could at least give a hint what basic category you used in your version of the recipe. I may not be able to find a “Merriam Vineyards 2008 Windacre Cabernet Franc” but I can at least find a nice Cabernet sauvignon or a basic red table wine if you tell me that is what you used.
When our vegetarian friend is away we often practice meat-integration for the Saturday night gathering. I came across the main dish last year, liked the sounds of it and added it to the “try this someday” list of bookmarks. The result was pretty tasty. It was maybe a bit thicker than I expected, something that I’d remedy next time with a bit of milk or some chicken broth. It made for a very hearty meal.
Creamy Chicken & Pepper Pie, minus the cornbread crust
Homemade chocolate pudding (this ain’t no box creation darling)
Notes under the cut
I subscribe to a number of food company’s e-mail lists in the hopes of the occasional coupon. Mostly they send recipes using their products; there’s nothing wrong with that. This dish was inspired by a recipe from Campbell’s for what they called Asian Shrimp Stir-fry.
I took their recipe as a guide, replaced an ingredient or two I didn’t have on hand and reduced the sodium a lot. It was quite good over plain white rice.
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Shrimp, peppers and onions with an Asian flavor profile.
My youngest nephew turned 9 last week. The family gathered together yesterday to celebrate a combined birthday and Easter. B thought it was neat that he was sharing his party with Jesus.
Orange-Flavored Chicken (Cook’s Illustrated – requires an account)
White Rice with Green Onions
Birthday cake and ice cream
Notes under the cut