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In grade 2, I had an amazing teacher. Ms. G was Italian, and had crazy long curly black hair that terrified us at first. But soon she won us over, and took us on a cooking adventure right from the beginning. We made a cookbook. Meatballs. Hand-rolled pasta. Breads. I can’t even remember all the details exactly, but the experience itself I cannot forget.

If I could have 5 wishes granted, one of mine in my top 5 would be that every child get the chance to cook and then eat regularly with a parent or loved-one. My close experiences with food beginning when I was very little have definitely contributed to my interests. Now, after my academic exploration of food in addition to the more casual personal one, I realize more (and realize how much more is unknown to me) than ever before the challenges of equity and access to food. If only every child had access… that’s what I’m asking, and aiming, for.

So in memory of my second-grade adventures, I’m posting a recipe for italian meatballs, although probably nothing near as good as Ms. G’s. But these were so good nonetheless. This recipe is from the Joy of Cooking, with a few variations.

Ingredients – dinner for 4

Meatballs

-1 lb lean ground beef
-3 garlic cloves, minced
-1/2 cup chopped parsley
-1/2 cup grated parmesan
-1 medium onion, finely chopped
-1/2 cup breadcrumbs
-1 large egg, beaten (and a second if the mix seems dry)
-3 Tbsp (dry) red wine
-2 Tbsp tomato paste
-1 tsp salt
-1/4 tsp black pepper
-1/2 tsp dried oregano
-1/2 cup all-purpose flour
-2 Tbsp olive oil

Pasta

-350g fresh pasta (e.g. linguine)

Tomato sauce

-1 onion, minced
-1 clove garlic, finely minced
-1 tsp dried basil
-1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
-3 Tbsp olive oil
-1 can diced or crushed tomatoes
-salt and pepper to taste

Directions

In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients for the meat balls up to and including the dried oregano.  Mix well with your hands, and add an extra egg if it is difficult to shape into 2 Tbsp-sized balls.

Place the flour on a plate and roll the meatballs in the flour, and then heat the olive oil in a pan over medium heat and brown all over.  Cover with a lid and let cook over medium-low for 10-15 minutes while you make the sauce and the pasta.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Meanwhile, sauté the onion in the oil in a frying pan for 3-4 minutes.  Add the herbs, salt and pepper, and garlic, and sauté for a further 2 minutes.  Add the canned tomatoes, and simmer down.

Cook pasta according to package directions.  Transfer the meatballs to the sauce, and serve over the pasta with parmesan on top.

These meatballs freeze fabulously after being cooked, and can be frozen either with or without sauce and eaten on another day.

Bon appétit!

-Sitelle

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