Posts Tagged ‘tomato sauce’

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


-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


-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


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!


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I would love to find out how and why we get cravings.  They’re such a mystery, and at the same time, so important in driving people’s food habits.  It may be a combination of biological need, psychological drive, environmental stimuli (e.g. advertising), or completely random.  I have no idea – but I do know that I am not the only person to fall victim to these feelings!  I also recognize that some are more able to indulge in their cravings than others, which has begun to make me think about what being able to fulfill cravings might actually mean.

Some days, all I crave is the deliciously comforting combination of cheese and tomatoes.  And those days are particularly dangerous when I walk into a grocery store, as happened a few days ago.  The result: ridiculous amounts of cheese, and the resolve to make cannelloni for dinner.  I sure am happy I actualized my craving, as it resulted in a delicious meal with copious amounts of left-overs to keep me going for the next few days of unexpected snow.

Cannelloni in the making!


-3 garlic cloves, minced, and separated into 2
-2 + 2 Tbsp olive oil
-1 tsp each dried basil, oregano, and parsley
-1/2 tsp dried thyme
-2 cans tomatoes (purée’d or diced are best)
-pinch salt, pepper
-1 leek, minced
-1 large handful each parsley (flat-leaf is best) and basil, chopped
-1 pound ricotta cheese
-1 package strained cottage cheese
-2 eggs, beaten
-1/2 cup grated mozzarella
-1 package cannelloni or lasagna sheet noodles
-1/4 cup parmesan, grated


In a frying pan, heat 2 Tbsp olive oil over medium-low heat.  Add 1/2 the garlic, the dried herbs, and stir for 2 minutes.  Then add the canned tomatoes, salt, and pepper.  Simmer this down for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, in another frying pan, heat the rest of the olive oil.  Add the minced leek, and let this melt for about 3 minutes.  Add the garlic, and then the chopped fresh herbs, and salt and pepper to taste.

In a large bowl, mix the ricotta, cottage cheese, 1/2 the mozzarella and 1/2 the parmesan, the eggs.  Mix, and then add the leek mixture, and mix again.

Then, either pipe the mix into the cannelloni noodles, or if you like assembly like me, spoon it/pipe a line onto one end of a lasagna noodle (cut them in half), and then roll it up.  Place the cannelloni in an oven dish that has been oiled with olive oil.  Continue to use up all the filling in the rest of the noodles, and then cover it all with tomato sauce generously.  The noodles soak up a lot of the sauce.  Cover the top with the rest of the cheese.  Bake at 375F for 30 minutes, until the top is golden crispy and the noodles are cooked.


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Although I would like to have invented this tradition myself, I am just continuing one inspired by Barbara Kingsolver in her book, Animal Vegetable Miracle.  Pizza is such a fun thing to make at home.  The dough is surprisingly easy to make from scratch, with 3-4 ingredients only.  So why not make it a weekly tradition (such as on Friday Nights), invite friends to come over and make it together?  It’s fun to get everyone to bring their favorite toppings.  This sort of event can only expand people’s lists of delicious toppings, and the aromas coming out of the hot oven are so tantalizing, I wouldn’t dream of leaving that out of the pizza experience by ordering it out.

The original recipe (which I did not change much) can be found at: http://www.animalvegetablemiracle.com/Pizza.pdf

This delicious meal can also make a wonderful breakfast the next day, warm or cold!

Ingredients – 2 to 3 cookie sheet-sized pizzas


-1  Tbsp yeast
-1 1/2 cups warm water
-3 Tbsp olive oil
-1 tsp salt
-2 cups whole-wheat flour
-2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

Tomato sauce

-1 onion, diced
-2 Tbsp olive oil
-3 cloves garlic, minced
-1 tsp each (or a combination of) dried oregano, basil, herbes de provence
-1/2 tsp dried thyme
– 1 can crushed or diced tomatoes
-pepper to taste

Pizza toppings – for several different pizzas

caramelized onions (1 large onion and butter or oil to caramelize it in)
-several types of cheese (here we used crumbled roquefort, slices of goat cheese, and grated cheddar)



Dissolve the yeast into the water and add the oil as well as the salt.  Add the flours in a separate bowl and mix.  Add this to the liquid mixture, and mix with your hands.  Knead for 5-8 minutes until it is elastic.  Let it rise for 30-40 minutes while you prepare the caramelized onions and tomato sauce.

Caramelized onions

In a heavy-bottomed frying pan, melt 2 Tbsp butter or oil over medium heat.  Slice an onion into rings or 1/2 rings.  Add the onion to the pan, and stir to coat it with the butter or oil.  Stir the onions often so they do not brown too quickly.  Once the volume begins to reduce, reduce the heat to low and let them caramelize slowly.  I like to do this for at least 30 minutes.  The result is absolutely scrumptious.

Tomato sauce

In a frying pan, heat oil over medium heat.  Sauté the onions with the dried herbs, and add the garlic once the onions are translucent.  After sautéing the garlic for a minute or so, add the canned tomato.  Let simmer for at least 15 minutes to let it thicken, and blend it with an immersion blender if the tomatoes were not puréed in advance.  Delicious additions include a splash of red wine, or some fresh basil and parsley leaves that are rubbed and crushed.


When the dough has risen and the sauce is ready, roll 1/3 to 1/2 of the dough on a cookie sheet covered in olive oil.  Make sure to roll the dough out quite thinly as this makes for more surface to be covered with delicious toppings.  Then brush some olive oil also onto the crust.  Put a thin layer of tomato sauce on the dough, then a layer of cheddar cheese.  On top of this, place whatever toppings you like.  One of our pizzas had blue cheese, black olives, prosciutto, caramelized onions, and arugula.  The other had goat’s cheese, spinach, caramelized onions, and stuffed green olives.

Cook them at 425F for betwen 15 and 20 minutes.  They are ready when the edges of the crust become browned.


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