It turns out that Emma loves meat. She will gobble down her braised beef, shredded chicken or crumbled meatballs even before she even goes for the macaroni and cheese! So, this week I made an extra large (4 pounds!) batch of meatballs to keep in the freezer (here's my recipe & step-by-step guide... it is so much easier to make meatballs than you might think). Now, I'll be able to get one or two out of the freezer at a time for her lunches and our dinners.
I use pre-cooked meatballs all of the time - they work great crumbled up to make a quick meat sauce for pasta, or on a pizza. This recipe for calls for pre-cooked meatballs crumbled into the sauce. It is a great alternative to the typical browned meat as the texture and flavor of the meatball is far better. If you keep them in mass quantities in the freezer, it can be a really quick dinner.
This recipe was influenced by both the Barefoot Contessa's Weeknight Bolognese and her Orecchiette with Sausage and Broccoli Rabe.
Orecchiette Pasta with Crumbled Meatballs
in a Parmesan Tomato Sauce
8 meatballs, pre-cooked (about 1 pound)
1 pound of orecchiette
3 tablespoons of olive oil
2 cups of mushrooms, sliced
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 - 32 oz. can of whole peeled tomatoes
1/2 cup of heavy cream
1 cup of pasta water (see *note below)
2 cups of spinach, stems removed
1 cup of parmesan cheese, grated
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil for the pasta.
For the sauce, in a saute pan cook the mushrooms in the olive oil for 2-3 minutes over high heat. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes, crushing them one at a time into the pan along with the juice. Simmer on medium heat for 10 minutes. Crumble in the meatballs.
In the meantime, cook pasta for 4 minutes less than the package directions.
Add heavy cream to the tomato sauce.
*Ladel 1 cup of water from the pasta boiling water into the tomato sauce. The starch from the pasta water will help to thicken the sauce. Add spinach and pasta and cook for 5 minutes.
Remove from heat and add parmesan cheese.