Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Meatless Meatballs and Sauce


There is just something so exciting about receiving a cookbook as a gift. I love to read through the recipes and think about all of the possible entertaining options. My Aunt Debbie is a long time reader and tester of the Cooks Illustrated magazine by Cook's Country. I love helping her with recipes from her lovingly used magazines with lots of notes scribbled in the sides from many road tests.

So when my Christmas gift this year from Aunt Debbie was the Cook's Country Best Lost Suppers cookbook, I couldn't wait to start making my own notes on some new found recipes. One the recipes that really intrigued me was Aunt Nina's Breadballs and Sauce. The idea of using bread in lieu of meat for meatballs is sort of a nod to gnocchi and I can always use another vegetarian option in my repertoire.

Let me tell you it is delicious, filling, and quite an affordable meal to boot. Definitely give this a try sometime...especially if you have a vegetarian friend who craves comfort food. It's delicious!

Aunt Nina's Breadballs and Sauce
Serves 6 - 8


1 cup water
1 large egg
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1 tbsp chopped fresh basil
1/4 t pepper
1 (16oz) loaf Italian bread, torn into small pieces
1 1/2 cups grated Parmesan
6 tbsp olive oil

1 onion, minced
2 (6 oz) cans tomato paste
1 tbsp sugar
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp dried oregano
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
2 cups water
1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce
1 tbsp fresh parsley
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1 tbsp chopped fresh basil

For the Breadballs
Whisk the water, egg, parsley, basil, and pepper together in a large bowl. Add the bread and cheese and mix with your hands until well combined. With wet hands, form the mixture into 1 1/2-inch breadballs (you should have 30 total).

Heat 1/4 cup of the oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add half of the breadballs and cook until well browned on the first side, 2 -4 minutes (do not move them until they have browned on the first side). Continue to cook until they are well browned on all sides, about 5 minutes longer, turning as needed. Transfer the breadballs to a bowl. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil to the pot and return it to medium heat until the oil is shimmering. Repeat with the remaining breadballs.

For the sauce
Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of the oil from the pot and return to medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion and 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 5-7 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste, sugar,garlic, oregano, red pepper flakes, and 1/4 tsp pepper and cook until the tomato paste begins to brown, 2-4 minutes. Add the water, tomatoes, and tomato sauce. Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour.

Return the breadballs to the pot, cover, and continue to simmer until the sauce is thickened slightly and breadballs are tender, about 30 minutes longer. Off the heat, stir in the parsley and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve, sprinkling each portion with Parmesan and basil.

Serve over pasta and enjoy.


Kim @ said...

OMG! Thanks! My two closest friends are vegetarian (I am not!) but we always to find new and exciting meals we all can enjoy, thanks!


オテモヤン said...
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Beth's Boutique Stuff said...

I was so glad to see the recipe. I needed to make something for the neighbor down the street who just had a baby and is a vegetarian. I have to say I was a little aprehensive, but I thought it would be better than just plain sauce and noodles. It was wonderful! I might even try it for my family one day. I am trying to figure a way to reduce some fat grams and calories though.