Basil from last summer's garden. Boy do I miss being able to go outside every single day and pick fresh basil! I used it in almost everything, including scrambled eggs!
R E C I P E S — When I knew that I was going to be socked in with the large snowstorm currently blowing around outside, I decided I'd make a nice tomato sauce and some meatballs. I normally read a lot of cookbooks and recipes online, but I almost never actually cook with recipes. I like to "wing it" when I'm in the kitchen, throwing a bit of this, a pinch of that, as I prepare food. The fact I'm only cooking for myself has made me almost fearless by now, as I don't have to take anyone else's tastes into consideration. Today I decided to make up a new meatball concoction. All amounts are "close to" what I used, as I don't really measure things either, lol. They really came out well!
Italian-ish Meatballs by artandcolour
- 3/4 lb lean ground beef (I used 93/7)
- 3/4 lb bulk Italian pork sausage (I used a local New Haven brand known for its low-fat content)
- 1/2 large sweet white onion
- 1 cup sliced mushrooms ( Baby bellas, almost always on sale!)
- 1 cup chopped fresh basil
- 1/2 cup oil-cured Italian black olives
- 1 cup whole milk Ricotta cheese
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese (use the inexpensive kind in the green can, and save the better quality for use on top of the pasta. I save money everywhere I can!)
- 2 cups Panko, the coarser Japanese variety of bread crumbs, evenly divided into two individual cups
- 2 tbsp dried fennel seeds
- 2 tbsp dried oregano
- 2 tbsp crushed black peppercorns
- 1 tbsp coarse sea salt
Roughly chop the onion and put into a food processor with the steel blade attached. Add the sliced mushrooms, basil and black olives and pulse until everything is finely chopped. I know that chefs and the Food Network seem to favor "chunky" or "roughly chopped" ingredients these days, but I prefer an even texture in my foods. I really don't like to take a bite of a meatball and have it taste like olives, and have the next bite taste more like onions or basil. I like every bite to have a uniform flavor, so I make sure every ingredient is the same consistency as the ground meat. To each his own, though!
Add the mixture from the food processor into the bowl of combined ground meats. Add one cup of the Panko breadcrumbs, and then add the rest of the ingredients, and mix together. Again, I use my hands to make sure everything is mixed together evenly. The Ricotta and the egg will help the mixture moisten so it mixes well, and the Panko will help it bulk up and hold together.
Form the meatballs. Mine were about two inches in width, and I made fourteen of them from this recipe. Roll the meatballs in the remaining Panko for a crust, and place them in a baking pan that has had olive oil drizzled on the bottom.
Bake at 350° for one hour, turning over the meatballs at the 1/2 hour mark. When they come out of the oven, you can eat them as is, or add them to your tomato sauce while it's cooking.