Sunday, March 15, 2009

Meatballs and Homemade Sauce

Sunday - the perfect day for cooking something that can simmer on the stove for a few hours.

I have made sauce a few times, but haven't had much luck since the first time I made it, way back in high school. I can't remember what I did that was over 17 years ago! So I went to this recipe for Giada's Simple Tomato Sauce. I followed the basics, but made several changes and doctored it up a bit. My changes are in italics below.

Jon's meatball recipe, his own recipe, is below as well.


  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped We love garlic so we used about 8 cloves - 4 in the beginning, and 4 later
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Added: 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 (32-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes
  • Added: 1 32-oz can peeled whole tomatoes
  • Added: 5 plum tomatoes
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, optional I used 1
  • Added: approximately 2 tbsp dried oregano


  • In a large casserole pot or Dutch over, heat oil over medium high heat. Add onion and garlic and saute until soft and translucent, about 5 to 10 minutes. Add celery and carrots and season with salt and pepper. Saute until all the vegetables are soft, about 5 to 10 minutes.
  • In the meantime, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut plum tomatoes in half, toss with a touch of olive oil, and roast for about 30 minutes. Let cool and remove skins.
  • Add tomato paste to pot and stir to mix with the veggies
  • Add tomatoes, oregano, and bay leaves and simmer uncovered on low heat for 1 hour or until thick. We let it simmer for 30 minutes before pureeing the sauce and adding the meatballs; see recipe below.
  • Remove bay leaves and check for seasoning. If sauce still tastes acidic, add unsalted butter, 1 tablespoon at a time to round out the flavors. I only added 1 tbsp butter. Also, this is when we added the additional 4 cloves of garlic, pressed. We also adjusted the salt and oregano. (yes, we..this was a joint endeavor!).
  • Add 1/2 the tomato sauce into the bowl of a food processor. Process until smooth. Continue with remaining tomato sauce. I used my handheld immersion blender before adding the meatballs. We let it simmer for another hour or so.

Mmm, this sauce was delicious, and even better on the second day.

Jon's Meatballs


  • 1 lb meatloaf mix - ground beef, pork, and veal
  • 1/2 green pepper, finely chopped
  • 1/2 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 egg
  • Breadcrumbs - approximately 3/4 c
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese


  • Mix all ingredients, adding breadcrumbs slowly, and knead thoroughly. Form into balls.

  • Place on a greased cookie sheet and bake on 375 for 20-25 minutes, turning once. Cooking time may be shorter or longer depending on the diameter of the meatballs. His cooking time was based on 1.5 inch meatballs.
  • Add to the sauce

I haven't eaten meatballs in years - as you know I was a vegetarian for years and ground meat was the last meat I started eating again. I LOVED these. Look at how they looked once I cut into one -

I think using a mixture of meats is key for flavor and texture, and I loved the bits of onions and peppers in the meatballs.

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  1. Looks like a delicious Sunday dinner. I haven't mastered meatballs yet, so maybe I'll give your recipe a try.

  2. What great comfort food - perfect for a lazy Sunday! Looks delicious!

  3. As usual, we got to test the product :) and it was Excellento !