Making use of leftovers

March 14, 2011

Meatballs and Pasta

One of the things I find funny is when people downplay copying something instead of creating your own. Especially those who eschew following a recipe. I’ve learned a lot from my family and have a number of “recipes” that are simply a bit of this, a dash of that, until it looks right, smells right, tastes right. I have a number of recipes that I’ve created, and as you know from reading this blog, I follow quite a lot of recipes too. And there’s nothing wrong with that, because I’ve learned a lot of techniques and flavor combinations I wouldn’t have thought of otherwise.

Let’s take spaghetti as a for instance. Spaghetti growing up was a jar of tomato sauce, a pound of ground beef, sauteed onions (and maybe some peppers), and a mix of spices. Cook that, pour it over spaghetti, and voila! Meatballs are something I learned from recipe after recipe – the ratio of meat to bread, the way to cook them, and different sauces they’re good in. So had I not followed many recipes over the years, I wouldn’t have been whipping up this meal one night from my leftovers.

Cooking the Meatballs

A while back my husband made lamb meatballs for dinner, and since he made a whole batch, we had some leftover. I froze them, uncooked, in a single layer. Tonight, I pulled out the meatballs, let them defrost, and poured a bit of oil in the pan over a medium heat. In went the meatballs, browning on each side, then I pulled them back out to drain.

Onions

Next up I added some chopped onions, letting them sweat a bit and getting the browned bits up from the bottom of the pan. I cooked the onions until soft. One of the things I learned over the years is if you don’t let the onions get to the right consistency, many vegetables will actually stop them from softening further. I can never remember which ones, so I just make sure I get my onions like I want them before adding anything else.

Adding Tomatoes

Next up I threw in some fresh tomatoes. I’m going to add jarred tomato sauce later, but I love adding a bit of fresh tomato which feels like it gives the sauce a brighter taste. I do this with salsa too!

Adding Classico

Once the tomatoes are cooked down, I add in the tomato sauce. Tonight I had a jar of Classico left over from pizza sub night, so I poured it in and seasoned the dish with a bit of crushed red pepper flakes and salt. Once the sauce had cooked for a bit and the flavors had blended, I nestled the meatballs back down into the sauce and let them cook, uncovered. At this point, I started my pasta (I already had the water ready) and in less than 10 minutes the meal was ready to be plated, with a bit of parmesan grated over the top. Simple and delicious.

Meatballs in sauce

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