Meatballs with Marinara, Salad, Brownie
Meatballs with Parsley and Fennel
Butter Crunch Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette
Herb & Cheese Dipping Oil
I still dream about my Italian Grandma's cooking. She would cook for days before our visits making all our favorite dishes. Her kitchen was kept immaculately clean and was just like you would imagine. All white appliances, red and white checked curtains, retro table and a bakers cabinet with a flour bin. I remember my mother and aunts around the kitchen table helping grandma make pasta. When grandma made pasta, she MADE PASTA! All types, including tortilla and stuffed ravioli, it was a flour fest with lots of laughter. On noodle day it was like it was snowing in the kitchen with flour in the air and trays of noodles on every countertop. Grandma made the best dark burgundy spaghetti sauce that took all day to cook. Her sauce had such a distinct richness, and no one could make it taste just like grandmas. Maybe that was the secret, a long simmer or was it, granddads, homemade wine. Most of us don't have that much time to spend in the kitchen. Sorry to disappoint you that I cannot share her recipes, only her story. But I will share my adjusted quicker versions, which take about 40 minutes.
Since the sauce needs to simmer to thicken and have time to develop rich flavors, we will start making it first. Heat a thick bottom saucepan on medium-high heat. Use a quality extra virgin olive oil to cook the onions, peppers, and garlic. Adjust burner if necessary to prevent over browning or burning. Just before you add the tomatoes, add the spices to give them a minute to become fragrant, then add all the tomatoes. Stir well. Let the sauce simmer on low, occasionally stir to make sure the sauce doesn't stick.
Next, make the meatballs. Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees — position oven rack to the upper middle. Gently break apart the ground beef in a large Thomas Pottery Mixing Bowl. Shred parmesan cheese using a Box Grater. I like to shred cheese on a piece of parchment paper. Make sure you shred enough for the dipping oil and also for your garnish. If you are using fresh bread, to make crumbs, shred the bread and toast in the oven for 5 minutes.
Using an 8 cup Liquid Pyrex Glass Measuring Cup, measure the milk, add two eggs and lightly beat. Add the breadcrumbs, spices, cheese, garlic, stir to combine. Set this aside for 10 minutes. In an 8" cast iron skillet heat oil. Cook onions and garlic until soft. 5 min. Combine the wet ingredients and onion mixture to the ground beef. Using your hands gently combine. Using a Portion Scoop make 2 1/2 inch balls, Line up the meatballs on a rimmed Granite Ware Baking Sheet lined with parchment paper (this makes the clean-up a little easier). Bake for 20 min. Turn oven up to 450 degrees for 5 minutes to brown if needed. Transfer meatballs to sauce, simmer 20 minutes.
Once the meatballs are finished, adjust oven temperature to bake the brownies. Zucchini brownies baked in a Thomas Pottery 9" Quiche Baker are delicious. Your guests will not even realize there is a vegetable involved. Serve on Thomas Pottery 5x5 Square Trays (set of 4) with ice cream.
While the brownies are baking, make the Herb and Cheese Dipping oil. Using a Pyrex Glass Measuring Cup, measure the olive oil, then add the remaining ingredients. Mix well. Serve in a Thomas Pottery Tri-Foot Sauce Boat with Ladle. This unique serving bowl adds a little whimsy to your dining experience and is dishwasher safe. This dipping oil is excellent on bread and can also be drizzled over vegetables and meat.
I am not a very good bread maker, but you might be! Homemade bread is wonderful served with this meal. I purchased Ciabatta rolls from the bakery, heated them in the oven for 15 minutes until toasty warm.
Make the Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing using a Pyrex Glass Measuring Cup, measure the balsamic vinegar then add garlic. I use a Zyliss Garlic Press but make sure you select a small clove, too much garlic will make the dressing bitter, Next add the mustard and honey. Slowly add oil, whisking until well combined. Serve in Thomas Pottery Small Crock. Leave at room temperature until ready to serve.
Make the salad. You can select the type of lettuce you like best, I like a soft Butter Crunch mix. Make sure to wash your lettuce, I use this Zeifheit Salad Spinner that I've had for over 15 years. We eat a lot of salad and have found changing the toppings and dressing helps keep us craving something fresh. Serve your salad in a Thomas Pottery Large Round Serving Bowl. Place finished salad it in the refrigerator until ready to serve, even if it is just for 15 min. the lettuce will crisp up and be delicious.
Zucchini noodles have become a weekly favorite and an easy way to add a vegetable to a meal. Bring a pot of salted water to a rolling boiling on the stovetop, and add noodles all at once, the zoodles will only take about 3 min. watch them carefully, they will over cook and become mushy. The pasta noodles will take about 9 min. to cook. This Spiralizer Vegetable Slicer works perpendicular which allows me to press down on the vegetable making it easy to operate. Serve your noodles with sauce and meatballs in a Thomas PotteryLarge Leaf Bowl. I like to pre-heat my serving bowl by pouring the hot water from the noodles into my serving bowl when I strain them. Dry the bowl before serving. Garnish with parmesan cheese and parsley.
Your guest will be full and happy after this Italian dinner and will be asking for the recipes!
Thomas Pottery Bakeware and Serving Pieces
Large Mixing Bowl
Large Round Serving Bowl with Small Crock
9" Quiche Baker
Large Leaf Bowl
Tri-Foot Sauce Boat with Ladle
5x5 Square Trays (set of 4)
Cooking Tools *see disclosure below
Spiralizer Vegetable Slicer
Zeifheit Salad Spinner
Zyliss Garlic Press
Pyrex Glass Measuring Cup
12"-8" Cast Iron Skillet
Granite Ware Baking Sheet
Shopping & Pantry Checklist
Med. Onion -3
1 Red Onion
1 red bell pepper or fired roasted peppers
Fresh Parsley - 1 bunch
Sweet Butter Lettuce Mix - 2 bags
Zucchini - one med. for each serving plus 2 med. for dessert
Garlic - one head
2lbs. Ground Chuck no less than 80/20
10 - 12 oz. Parmesan Cheese
Kalamata Olives (optional)
28oz. Whole Pear Tomatoes
28oz. Tomato Puree or Crushed
28oz. Tomato Sauce
Crushed Red Pepper flakes
Salt and Pepper
All Purpose Flour
Cocoa Baking Powder
I'd love to read about your cooking memories with your grandmother. Leave a comment below.
A special thank you to my sister, Wanda and husband Scott for testing my recipes, editing my text and being my sounding board.
Please note that some of this site's links are affiliate links, Bobbie Thomas is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by providing links to amazon.com. At NO ADDITIONAL COST TO YOU, I will earn a small commission, if you purchase them using these links. Please know these are products I use and recommend to my customers.