Friday, April 19, 2013

“Grandma's Marinara Tomato Sauce” & “Grandma's Meatballs” Recipes

As the weather gets warmer and Spring is really in full bloom, it brings to mind that Summer time is approaching. A time for the beach, BBQ’s, picnics, family gatherings, and just enjoying the time outside in the sun. One of my favorite foods to eat in the summer are tomatoes. Tomatoes are now available year-round, but the most quantities, and the best flavor are when they are at it’s peak season from July to September. They can be red, yellow, orange, green, purple, or brown in color. Tomatoes are fruits in a botanical sense. Their taste and flavor have a subtle sweetness that is harmonized by a slightly bitter and acidic taste.

Packed with vitamins and antioxidants, tomatoes are one of the healthiest foods you can purchase. They are high in Vitamin C, Vitamin A, fat-free, low in sodium, and satisfy 10 percent of your daily potassium needs. Tomatoes should be kept at a cool room temperature, never refrigerated.

The varieties of tomatoes come in several shapes and sizes, plus can be used in numerous ways of eating, drinking, or cooking. The spherical tomato, or known as rounds can be used for juice production, sandwiches, and salads. The pear-shaped or oval tomatoes, known as plum tomatoes, are primarily used to make tomato paste, due to being less juicy and less flavorful. Then we have the small cherry or grape tomatoes, which are usually eaten whole in salads or as a snack. These also are firmer and may be cooked on kabobs or grilled. Lastly we have the beefsteak or sandwich tomatoes. These are about 5 inches in diameter. One slice is enough to cover a large sandwich.   

The tomato was introduced from the Spanish New World to European botanists in the 16th century. The use of tomato sauce with pasta appears for the first time in the Italian cookbook “L’Apicio Moderno,” by the Roman Chef, Francesco Leonardi, edited in 1790.

Making a great tomato sauce is something you can be proud of once you get it right. No store bought pasta or spaghetti sauce can compare with the taste of a sauce that you make from scratch. You can use this sauce on a variety of pasta including spaghetti, macaroni and it is also a good base for lasagna. My recipe this week is two fold, one is my mom’s Marinara Sauce and the other is her Meatball recipe. The recipe for this sauce was passed down from my family, and now to you. Buon Appetto! 

Grandma’s Marinara Tomato Sauce

2 cans of 28 oz. crushed tomatoes
2 cans of tomato paste
Olive Oil or Canola Oil
5 large garlic cloves
Salt to taste
2 1/2 tablespoons of Oregano flakes
2 1/2 tablespoons of Parsley flakes
2 1/2 tablespoons of Basil flakes
2 dried Bay leaves

On medium heat sauté olive oil to thinly cover bottom of pot. Add garlic. Then add crushed tomatoes and paste.  Add 1/2 can of water (use paste can). Put in salt, parsley, basil, oregano to taste and add 2 dried bay leaves. Stir while cooking on low simmer (after starts to boil) for 1 hour. You can add a small amount of sugar if desired (optional). Cover on or slightly off to thicken sauce. Enjoy with pasta of your choice and meatballs.

“Grandma’s Meatballs”
Yields: 30 meatballs-(10 meatballs per pound)

2 cups of bread crumbs (if too stiff add a sprinkle of water)
3 lbs of beef chuck chopped meat (80% lean, but not too lean, you need a little fat for moisture)
1 1/2 teaspoons of minced garlic
3/4 cup of fresh Pecorino Romano cheese, grated
6 eggs
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground pepper
3 fistfuls of fresh parsley-chopped
Vegetable oil or Canola oil 
Place oil about 1/4 to 1/2 inches in frying pan. Heat oil before placing the meatballs in pan. Put the beef chuck in a med-sized bowl and add all ingredients except the oil. Gently combine the meat using your hands until evenly mixed. The mixture should be slightly wet and workable, not too sticky. Using your hands, gently shape meat into balls. Don’t worry if they are not perfectly round, but try to make them all uniform for even cooking. Don’t roll them over and over, be gentle. Add the meatballs to the pan and fry them until they are brown on one side then turn. Keep turning with tongs until they are completely and evenly browned. Transfer the cooked meatballs to a paper towel to drain. Now it is time to place your meatballs into your sauce to cook for a while and then serve with pasta of your choice.

Tip: In place of bread crumbs, take chunks of stale Italian bread and soak in a bowl with water or milk. As it softens remove crust and squeeze water or milk out of bread chunks. Separate into small pieces and add to chopped meat mixture.

Till Next Time………………………………..

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