Vegetable Enriched Pasta Meatballs

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Table Food: Vegetable Enriched Pasta Meatballs! For a clever way to increase vegetables into your diet, think pasta. The next trip you make to the grocery store could reveal the variety of homemade pasta noodles made with puréed tomatoes, carrots, spinach, and zucchini. Many are cholesterol-free and all-natural, if that sort of thing is important to you. Read the labels carefully. The last thing you want is food coloring instead of the real deal. Chop up fresh onions, green peppers, and garlic, as you normally would. By the time you add marinara sauce and meatballs, I guarantee you the family will be asking for seconds.

VEGETABLE ENRICHED PASTA MEATBALLS

Ingredients:

14 ounces vegetable mix homemade noodles

1 tablespoon sea salt

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 sweet onion, chopped

1/2 green pepper, chopped

1-2 cloves garlic, minced

24-ounce jar pasta sauce, prepared

26-ounce bag frozen Italian-style meatballs, thawed

Instructions:

Bring 3-4 quarts of salted water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the bag of vegetable in homemade noodles. Cook for 12-15 minutes, or until tender. Rinse and drain. Set aside. In a large skillet, warm olive oil over medium heat. Add chopped onions, green peppers, and minced garlic. Sauté until tender and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Add prepared pasta sauce and Italian-style meatballs. Reduce heat and cover. Cook until heated thoroughly, 15-20 minutes. Add drained vegetable pasta. Toss to coat. Keep warm until ready to serve.

Meatball Pizzetta

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Table Food: Meatball Pizzetta! Need a late-night snack beyond a bag of chips or a bowl of ice cream? Don’t get me wrong, there was a time in my life when I self-medicated with a pint of Turkish Coffee Ice Cream, at least 3 or 4 times a week. No regrets and certainly no judgment here. What I recently discovered, though, is a mini portion of authentic flatbread, packaged in a 4-count. Just the right size to become a pizzetta for one. I always seem to have a jar of homemade Italian marinara in my fridge. And mozzarella cheese? Well, that’s practically a staple around my house as well. Do you see the wheels turning? This is how my kitchen is stocked. Because you never know when a craving will hit.

MEATBALL PIZZETTA

Ingredients:

I mini naan flatbread

2-3 tablespoons marinara sauce, prepared

1/4 cup mozzarella cheese

3-5 small frozen Italian meatballs, thawed

1 tablespoon pickled red onions

Fresh basil, for garnish

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 400°. If you have a pizza stone, place it on the rack while the oven is warming. Take a mini naan flatbread and place it on a plate. Spread a layer of marinara, stopping short of the edges. Layer naan with shredded mozzarella cheese. Arrange Italian meatballs on top. Transfer pizzetta to a preheated pizza stone. Bake 15-20 minutes until cheese melts and crust is crunchy. Carefully remove from oven, add pickled red onions, and slice pizzetta. Garnish with fresh basil.

Jollof Spaghetti

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Clean Eating: Jollof Spaghetti! Just when you thought you’ve heard of everything, along comes another version of spaghetti night that just made your life a little easier. Gone is the method of boiling water to cook the pasta, worrying about how to keep the starch from building up, or the fact that oil makes the sauce slide right off. Sound familiar? Been there, done that. With this technique, the spaghetti cooks slowly in the marinara sauce. No advanced parboiling required. The results are moist, definitely al dente, and paired with the meatballs…out of this world. I see this in your future.

JOLLOF SPAGHETTI

Ingredients:

28-ounce can Roma tomatoes in basil sauce, cut-up

1/4 teaspoon oregano

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon basil

1/4 teaspoon marjoram

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 teaspoon agave nectar

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/2 cup sweet onion, chopped

1/2 cup green pepper, chopped

8 ounces spaghetti

1 pound frozen large Italian-style meatballs, precooked and thawed

Parmesan cheese, for garnish

Instructions:

In a large bowl, combine Roma tomatoes in sauce, oregano, garlic powder, basil, marjoram, olive oil, agave nectar, kosher salt, and red pepper flakes. Mix well. In a microwave-safe dish, combine sweet onion and green peppers. Microwave on High for 2 minutes. Add to marinara sauce. Transfer mixture to a Dutch oven. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Add spaghetti; stir. Reduce heat to simmer for 15 minutes or until spaghetti is cooked. Stir occasionally to separate pasta. In a microwave-safe dish, add the Italian-style meatballs. Cook on High setting, according to package directions. When cooked, add to the spaghetti mixture. Gently stir. Simmer 5 minutes longer to combine flavors, or keep warm until ready-to-serve. Spoon into bowls and garnish with parmesan cheese.

Zucchini Spirals Over Meatballs

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Food for Sharing: Zucchini Spirals over Meatballs! I am intrigued by the Spiralizer. Perhaps because it can take an ordinary vegetable and turn it into a gourmet attraction. And food that looks appealing is that much closer to an instant craving, in my opinion. By taking a shortcut with store bought meatballs and marinara sauce, this meal can be on the table in less than 30 minutes. Boom!

ZUCCHINI SPIRALS OVER MEATBALLS

Ingredients:

1-2 zucchini, spiralized

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 tablespoon capers

1 pound home style meatballs, precooked

1 jar spaghetti sauce, any flavor

Instructions:

Spiralize zucchini into a bowl. They will appear like pasta noodles. Discard spiral stems. In a medium skillet, heat olive oil. Reduce heat and toss zucchini spirals to coat. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes. Fold in capers. Heat no longer than 2-3 minutes. They should be slightly crunchy. In a large microwave-safe dish, combine meatballs and spaghetti sauce. Heat thoroughly. To serve, top meatballs and sauce with zucchini spirals.

Fondue Pizza Party

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Food for Sharing: Fondue Pizza Party! Revitalize the 1970s by throwing a fondue party. Gather up the dipping forks, where everyone chooses their favorite color. Remember, these forks are for spearing and dipping only. Never allow your guests to eat from the sharp pointed ends. Another reason eating from the fondue forks is a no-no is to avoid adding germs to the fondue sauce. So, set the table and let the fun begin!

FONDUE PIZZA PARTY

Ingredients:

1 pound Italian meatballs, pre-cooked and ready-to-serve

8 ounces bite size dry salami or pepperoni slices

1 green pepper, chopped

1 red onion, chopped

1 pound cherry tomatoes

8 ounces mozzarella sticks, cut into chunks

28-30 ounce jar pizza sauce or spaghetti sauce

Breadsticks

Bagel chips

Rosemary sprigs

Instructions:

Heat pizza sauce to boiling, then reduce to simmer, stirring constantly. Keep warm. Transfer to a fondue pot when ready to serve. Set on low heat to maintain a constant temperature. Arrange meatballs, pepperoni slices, green pepper, onion, cherry tomatoes, and cheese chunks on one or two serving platters. Include breadsticks, crostini, or bagel chips as another option. Spear dippers with fondue forks or rosemary sprigs. Dip ingredients into the fondue sauce for pizza party magic.

Burrata Meatballs

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Timeless Classics: Burrata Meatballs! Time is of the essence. You can either make your own homemade meatballs, or you can bypass one step and use a store bought variety like I did. I put my energy into the homemade marinara sauce simply because the results are between night and day, in my opinion. If you choose to use your favorite pasta sauce, be my guest. The focus today is actually on that incredible Burrata cheese! I think I could drown in a bathtub of Burrata and happily eat my way out of it. Don’t judge me.

BURRATA MEATBALLS

Ingredients:

1 pound Italian sausage-style meatballs, precooked

2 cups San Marzano crushed tomatoes*

1/2 teaspoon basil

1/8 teaspoon marjoram

1/4 teaspoon oregano

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

7 ounces mushrooms, sliced and drained

6 ounces Burrata cheese, chunks

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. In a large skillet over medium-low heat, combine crushed tomatoes, basil, marjoram, oregano, garlic powder, and mushrooms. Simmer until sauce thickens. Add meatballs. Spoon marinara sauce generously over meatballs. Transfer portions to individual serving casseroles. Randomly place Burrata cheese between meatballs. Bake 10-15 minutes until cheese is melted and bubbly. Serve Burrata Meatballs with garlic bread or spoon over pasta.

* I receive no recompense for the suggestion of San Marzano Certified Italian Tomatoes.

Ziti Baked Spinach

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Joy of Eating: Ziti Baked Spinach! Four simple ingredients are baked together to create a timeless Italian favorite: ziti pasta, tomato sauce, spinach, and cheese. The rest is simply embellishment for the palate. The short tubular shape of ziti grabs onto chunky sauces, making it a distant cousin to penne, which may be easier to find in the grocery aisle. However, I visited a specialty store where I chose an authentic organic brand of ziti pasta made in Italy. Buona Saluté!

ZITI BAKED SPINACH

Ingredients:

8 ounces ziti

1 10-ounce package frozen spinach, thawed

1/4 cup Italian bread crumbs

1 egg, beaten

2 tablespoons olive oil

3/4 cup mozzarella cheese, finely shredded

16 Italian style meatballs, halved

8 ounces mushrooms, sliced and sautéed

24 ounce jar of basil spaghetti sauce

1/8 teaspoon oregano

1/8 teaspoon marjoram

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly grease an 8″x8″ casserole dish. Cook pasta according to package directions, al dente. Drain in a colander. Sauté mushrooms in a tablespoon of olive oil. Cook spinach according to package directions. Drain and transfer to a medium bowl. Combine spinach, bread crumbs, egg, olive oil, 1/4 cup cheese, and ziti. In a large skillet, mix spaghetti sauce, mushrooms, Italian sausage, oregano, marjoram, and garlic powder. Simmer for 10 minutes until heated through. Layer a third of the meat sauce on the bottom of the casserole dish. Fill the next layer with the spinach ziti mixture. Top with remaining spaghetti sauce. Sprinkle 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese over all. Bake for 30 minutes. Let rest for 10 minutes and serve.

Angel Hair Pasta

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? A Burst of Flavor: Angel Hair Pasta Partners! When you’re short on time and need things at your fingertips, turn to this quick weeknight dinner option. You’ll appreciate the convenience without sacrificing flavor. The texture is pleasing and the presentation is reward enough. Make this and you’ll be able to put your feet up and enjoy the evening.

ANGEL HAIR PASTA

Ingredients:

6 ounces angel hair pasta, uncooked

1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

4-6 Roma tomatoes, quartered

1 green pepper, cut up chunks

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper

1/8 teaspoon basil

1/8 teaspoon marjoram

16 Italian-style meatballs, fully cooked

Parmesan cheese for garnish

Instructions:

Cook and drain pasta per package directions. As pasta is cooking, heat olive oil in 3-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and green peppers. Cook 2 minutes until tender; remove from heat. Stir in Roma tomatoes and meatballs. Return to low heat and warm through. Add drained pasta and gently toss with basil, marjoram, salt, and pepper. Serve pasta meal sprinkled with Parmesan cheese. Add a side of crusty garlic toast.

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: Letter H

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Color of Food: Hot and Saucy Meatballs! For an amazing appetizer or afternoon snack, simply throw everything together for quick work. Bake in the oven or simmer in the crockpot on a low setting. Obviously, if you prefer to make the meatballs from scratch, be my guest. I opted for a simpler method today. Either way, once the meatballs are cooking, you can get on to other things. Such as the latest episode of “The Voice” on DVR. Don’t judge me.

HOT AND SAUCY MEATBALLS

Ingredients:

1/2 cup brown sugar

2/3 honey

1 cup ketchup

4 tablespoons soy sauce

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

2 teaspoons red pepper flakes

2 teaspoons roasted sesame seeds

26 ounces Italian meatballs, fully cooked

Fresh chives for garnish

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 250°. In a medium bowl combine brown sugar, honey, ketchup, soy sauce, garlic powder, and red pepper flakes. Mix well. Add Italian meatballs. Coat evenly. Transfer to a covered casserole dish. Bake for 4 hours, stirring occasionally. Garnish with roasted sesame seeds and fresh chives before serving.