Tonight was Matt’s night in the kitchen. Matt has somewhat picky tastes, but he’ll eat just about anything if it involves pasta or wrapped in a tortilla. So it was no surprise to any of us that spaghetti and meatballs was his first choice. He could eat spaghetti every day, if allowed. So spaghetti it was.
Of course, with my recent decision to go gluten-free, I knew that I would have to make some modifications. Gluten-free spaghetti is easy – Glutino sells some brown rice pasta. (Of course, brown rice works just as well in a pinch.) However, my usual meatball recipe calls for bread crumbs. I could omit them, but I was afraid the meatballs would be soggy and dense. I had some Glutino Flax Seed Bread, (which makes really good toast!) so I figured, why not make bread crumbs from this? Blitzed 4 slices in the food processor, and ta-da, gluten-free bread crumbs! We were in business.
Matt was a fast learner in the kitchen. Good thing, because his dish called for more ingredients than the dishes his siblings prepared. His favorite part, obviously, was making the meatballs. (He kept rolling HUGE meatballs, and telling his brother that they were his “dream” meatballs.) With the laughing and joking around, the preparation went by rather quickly. We had those meatballs in the oven in what seemed like a matter of minutes.
Speaking of a matter of minutes, this tomato sauce recipe takes less than 10 minutes to prepare. Who needs 15-plus ingredients and a long simmer time to make a great tomato sauce? As I’ve found out recently, not I! This sauce is so tasty and bright, with a good kick from the red pepper, and only uses 7 ingredients (if you count salt as an ingredient).
All in all, this turned out to be a satisfying meal. After tonight, the first round of “Kids in the Kitchen” is complete. I couldn’t be more pleased. I think we’re beginning something that will continue to be a source of fun and education for a long while to come.
Gluten-Free Meatballs (adapted from Cuisine At Home)
1 1/2 c gluten-free breadcrumbs
3/4 c parmesan cheese, finely grated
1/2 c milk
1/2 c vegetable broth
1/2 c fresh parsley, chopped
3 eggs, beaten
2 T dried oregano
1 T garlic, minced
1 1/2 t salt
1 T ground black pepper
2 t dried basil
1 t crushed red pepper flakes
2 lbs lean ground beef
1 c vegetable or chicken broth
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Stir together first 13 ingredients (through nutmeg) in a large mixing bowl. Add ground beef and mix together thoroughly. (We used our hands – clean, of course.) Take a portion of meat (about 1 1/2 oz each, or nearly 2 inches in diameter) and roll into a ball with your palms. (Alternatively, you can use a portioning scoop or two spoons.) Place the meatballs on a baking sheet or shallow roasting pan, evenly spaced.
Cover the bottom of the pan wiht the remaining 1 cup of broth. Bake for 25 minutes, or until the meatballs are just cooked through.
While the meatballs are baking, you can prepare the pasta according to package directions, and start the sauce.
Quick and Easy Tomato Sauce
3 T olive oil
2 t crushed red pepper flakes
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 28-0z cans crushed tomatoes
salt to taste
2 T basil leaves, julienned
1 t oregano leaves, chopped
Combine olive oil, red pepper and garlic in cold saucepan. Heat to medium, stirring while heating. Cook for 2 minutes. Add tomatoes and stir to heat. Add salt to taste, and let simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in basil and oregano, and add meatballs (once baked).
Serve meatballs and sauce over pasta. Sprinkle with parmesan if desired. Serves 6.