veggie pasta with meatballs
Dinner, Entrees, Meat, Pasta

Veggie Pasta with Meatballs

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I cook almost every day but I don’t put everything I cook up on this blog.  A lot of times it’s because taking photos and measuring ingredients to make a recipe is extra time consuming.  A dish that should take 30 minutes takes 2 hours and after a long day at work I just want to cook myself something quick and easy and then relax.  It’s also because sometimes I’m just making shit up as I go along and have no idea what’s going to come out of it.  Other times it’s because I think it’s kinda weird and I’m too embarrassed to share (do you really need me to post a recipe for a mayonnaise sandwich?).  But recently one of my readers who is also a real life friend suggested that I post some of these random ass recipes.  So here you go.  I give you… Veggie Pasta with Meatballs.

The entire motivation and inspiration for this dish was to use up the ground beef my roommate had left behind when she went out of town.  It was left over from a Blue Apron box that her friend had given her because SHE was out of town.  And so this sad little 10oz package of questionable quality ground beef found its way into my capable waste-fearing hands.  It’s been in the fridge for over a week now so the clock was rapidly ticking on its viability as food.  I had plans to come home from work and turn it into spaghetti bolognese because YUM!  But low and behold, when I got home I realized that I had zero pasta sauce with which to make SpagBol.  So I opened up my CSA box, which was delivered today, and came up with this shit.

veggie pasta with meatballs ingredients

I’ve often wondered if I’d get very far in one of those cooking competition shows like Chopped. I mean, I’m sure I’d make something tasty for every challenge but not sure it would be restaurant quality, i.e. the kind of thing people would pay money to eat.

At first I was just like, I’ll just brown the meat in some onions and garlic with a little white wine and then add the veggies and some broth.  But then I decided I wasn’t super excited about having bits of ground meat sticking to the pasta and veggies like crumbs so I decided to make meat balls instead.

meatball ingredients

The meat looked and smelled fine, which is my one and only test for whether or not I should eat something. I firmly believe this is why I am able to eat street food in developing countries without any issues. I give my gut bacteria a healthy workout on the regular.

 

I mixed the meat, eggs and seasoning together and it was super wet, almost liquid.  I was definitely going to need some breadcrumbs to soak up some of that moisture.  But the breadcrumbs were in the downstairs pantry (oh yes, I have more than one pantry) and it was late and I just couldn’t be bothered to go ALL THE WAY downstairs to get them.  So I improvised with these wheat crackers that someone had left at my house after a party.  People are always leaving food here, it’s amazing.

whole wheat crackers

I honestly don’t love these crackers on a cheese platter because they are too thick and hearty.  But they made pretty amazing breadcrumbs.

crackers in mortar and pestle

As I was grinding these crackers it occurred to me that this might seem gourmet but it was actually just really fucking lazy. I have two kinds of bread crumbs downstairs but these crackers and the mortar and pestle were within arm’s reach so crackers it was!

 

crushed crackers

They actually came out kinda perfect.

I sprinkled about 2 Tablespoons of the crumbs into my meat mixture and that seemed to firm it up enough to make balls instead of puddles.  Then I fired up the cast iron pan with some oil in it and browned these babies up.  I thought I might have to finish them off in the oven but they were small enough that they cooked through in the pan.

raw meatballs

Looks pretty legit right?

browned meat balls

Each of these meatballs was about a heaping tablespoon worth of meat mixture which means they cooked up quickly and thoroughly in the pan.

Meanwhile I had figured out what I was going to do with the veggies.  I’d sweat about 5 large cloves of yummy garlic that was gifted to me from Jennie Cook and then cook the veggies in that sweaty, garlicky goodness.

organic garlic

A thing of beauty.

This garlic came from an Black Oak Ranch in Mendocino County where Jennie has family connections.  So at least all the produce in this recipe was local, beyond organic and of high quality.  Cooking veggies in sweated garlic has been one of my go to recipes lately.  It’s so easy and it tastes amazing.  The garlic almost melts into the veggies and oil making a kind of sauce.  I highly recommend you give it a try.

sweating garlic

Sweating garlic just means cooking it slowly over low heat. It takes the bite out of it while keeping its pungent flavor and adding just a touch of sweetness. I usually start the garlic in cold oil and then turn on the heat… just to be safe. Browning the garlic gives you a completely different dish.

As I was stirring the veggies into the sweated garlic I noticed these two tomatoes sitting in our fruit bowl.  I am not sure how they got there but I was pretty sure they had been sitting there for a while so that meant they were probably mine or were left behind by someone I know.  So in the pot they went!  Tomatoes and pasta always go together.

ripe tomatoes

These guys were pretty darn ripe so I figured I’d put them to use before they started to grow their own life.

Everything came together in the end to make a pretty yummy dish that could feed around 6 to 8 people.  So that means I’ll be eating this for the next three days.  It’s a good thing I ended up being very pleased with it!  So now you know what normally goes on in my kitchen on a regular basis.  I basically root around the fridge and pantry to see what’s about to die and then I throw it all together to make a meal or 10.  Stay tuned for more of these posts and let me know if they are at all helpful or interesting to you in the comments!!

 

Delightful Recipe

Serves 6 to 8

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 little skinny eggplants, cut into one inch chunks
  • 2 loooong neck zucchini, cut into one inch chunks
  • 2 ripe tomatoes, chopped
  • 10 oz of ground meat (please use a higher quality and source than I did)
  • 1 lb of spaghetti
  • 5 large cloves of garlic, pressed
  • 1 pinch of chile flakes
  • 8 basil leaves chiffonaded
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 tsp oregano, dry
  • 1/4 tsp basil, dry
  • 1/4 tsp parsley, dry
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 wheat crackers crushed or 2 TBS breadcrumbs
  • Shredded Parmesan cheese (optional for garnish)
  • 3 – 5 Tablespoons of olive oil
  • More salt for seasoning
  • Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and cook the pasta according to package instructions.  Drain and toss in high quality olive oil and set aside.
  • In a small bowl mix the ground beef, egg, bread or cracker crumbs, oregano, basil, parsley, salt and garlic powder.  Then form the mixture into small balls, about a heaping tablespoon’s worth.  Heat about 1 Tablespoon of oil in a pan and brown the meatballs on all sides.
  • In a large pot, pour in 2 Tablespoons of olive oil and then add the pressed garlic and a pinch of chile flakes.  Turn the heat to medium low and let the garlic simmer on low until it’s very fragrant but not browning, just a minute or so.  Then add all your chopped veggies and a large pinch of salt.  Mix to combine and stir occasionally to prevent the veggies or the garlic from sticking to the bottom of the pot and browning.  After about 5 to 10 minutes, check the veggies for doneness and also to make sure they have enough salt.  Adjust the seasoning and cook until the veggies are done to your liking.
  • Add in the pasta and the basil and meatballs.  Toss it all to combine and serve with freshly grated Parmesan cheese on top.
  • Enjoy!
veggie pasta with meatballs

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