Spaghetti with Heart-shaped Meatballs
For pleasing every generation, there is nothing like good old fashioned spaghetti. But for Valentine's Day give it a bit of a twist. Shape the meatballs to look like Valentine hearts. When making this recipe, do the sauce first. Start making the meatballs about one hour before dinner time. Make the noodles last, of course.
-- For Sauce --
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 six-ounce can of tomato paste
2 14.5-ounce cans of crushed or diced tomatoes
2 cloves garlic
2 medium onions
1 teaspoon dried oregano leaf
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
salt and pepper to taste
-- For Meatballs --
2 pounds ground hamburger or other meat
2 cloves garlic or 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
2 tablespoons dried chives
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1/2 tablespoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon crushed dried cilantro
1 cup fresh grated Parmesan or Romano Cheese
2 cups stale bread crumbs
1/2 cup milk
1 pound spaghetti noodles
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
You won't hear too many chefs tell you something like this, but...if you are in a desperate rush skip making the sauce from scratch and dump it out of a jar into a saucepan and simmer for about 30 minutes. For those inclined to make their own sauces...in a 3 or 4 quart sauce pan set on medium heat spread oil over bottom. Add onions and garlic. Saute until onions are slightly soft. Add the tomato paste and crushed tomatoes. Stir in spices. Simmer sauce over very low heat. Stir frequently to avoid scorching the bottom!
While the sauce is simmering, and just about one hour before it is time to serve, begin to make the meatballs. In a large mixing bowl place ground beef chopping it up with a spoon. Successively add spices, minced fresh garlic, chives, parsley, basil and cilantro. Crack in eggs, and mix well, until there is no obvious yoke or white. Now mix in Parmesan Cheese, breadcrumbs and milk. Stir until meat is a consistent texture. Separate the meatballs into 2-inch balls. Now, with your bare hands, rather in the manner of my famous meatloaf recipe, form the meatballs into a heart shape. If you want to be precise, you can form the pieces with a cookie cutter. Hearts should not be less than 3/4-inch thick.
Lay the meatballs in a baking dish. I use 10X15-inch glass pyrex. Place in a 375° oven for half an hour or until meatballs are done. You may have to cut open a heart in order to determine whether the meatballs are fully cooked. It is best if there is no pink remaining.
Cook spaghetti as per directions on package. One pound had ought to serve four, but check the size of any teenagers present, or any boys over the age of seven, for that matter. Just to make sure you have enough, you may have to go with two pounds. To serve lay spaghetti servings on plates, pour on sauce, place meatballs artistically in the midst of the sauce and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.