As fragrant and colorful as a backyard garden, this recipe elevates casual family fare to an art form. To bring out the full flavor of the dish, salt your pasta water with a heavy hand—think salty like the Mediterranean. In the unlikely event of leftovers, the meatballs also make a fantastic sandwich.
|1||pound||brown mushrooms, sliced*|
|1||cup||red wine, drinking quality|
|1/2||teaspoon||red pepper flakes|
|1||teaspoon||freshly ground black pepper|
|1/4||cup||Parmesano Reggiano cheese|
|additional leaves||for decorating|
|1/4||cup||Parmesano Reggiano cheese, grated|
|3/4||cup||tomato sauce, see above|
|.* Choose mushrooms such as crimini or baby portabellas.**Use a combination of pureed and diced tomatoes for best consistency.
1. Place one tablespoon of the butter and one tablespoon of olive oil in a large, heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sauté until translucent. Lower the heat to medium, add the garlic, and sauté briefly. Do not brown the garlic. Use a slotted spoon to remove the onion and garlic from the pot and set aside.
2. Add two tablespoons of butter and two tablespoons of olive oil to the pot and heat over medium-high. Add the mushrooms and sauté until slightly softened.
3. Add ¼ cup of the wine to the mushrooms and cook for one minute.
4. Return the onions and garlic to the cooking pot with the mushrooms. Crumble the bay leaves and add them along with the tomatoes, basil, oregano, thyme, pepper flakes, ¾ cup of wine, salt, and pepper and bring to a simmer.
5. Grate the cheese and add to the pot.
6. Prepare and brown the meatballs according to recipe below.
Preparation time: 25 minutes
1. Combine the ground chuck, breadcrumbs, cheese, and tomato sauce in a medium bowl and mix together.
2. Form into uniform balls using a 1-½ inch ice cream scoop.
3. Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Add the meatballs and cook briefly, browning on all sides.
4. Add the meatballs to the tomato sauce and cover partially with a lid. Cook for 25–30 minutes, until the meatballs are cooked through.
5. Pour the meatballs and tomato sauce over a platter of piping hot, freshly cooked spaghetti.
6. Decorate with fresh basil leaves.