Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Spaghetti and Grilled Meatballs

This is a delicious and nutrition packed classic with a small twist. I randomly tried it this summer and it was delicious so I figured I would pass it on. Grilling the meatballs versus broiling them yields a delicious smokey flavor that goes amazingly with red sauce.

The recipe itself will be just for the meatballs themselves seeing as how I'm going to assume that most people can figure out the pasta and sauce portion on their own. Everyone has their own preferences on marinara sauce; mine is definitely Newman's Own:
Specifically, Newman's Own Organic Tomato & Basil Marinara is my favorite, but all the Newman's Own line is pretty delicious. I bought this brand before I cared about organic or natural foods, and I bought this brand before I knew about all the good that the Newman's Own company does. As far as the pasta goes, I love Barilla Whole Grain - Thin Spaghetti. Not everyone can handle whole grain pasta, especially after a life time of eating white. It is soooooo much healthier though. Plain white pasta is akin (metabolically) to eating spoonfuls of white sugar. It took me a few tries, but now I like the whole grain pasta as much as I do regular. I challenge you to give it a try. The Barilla isn't super grainy textured, and I think the thin spaghetti is great for those with texture aversions since it is harder to tell with the thinner noodles.
 Anyhoo, on to the meatballs!

  • 1 lb. ground beef (I recommend 15% or less fat content)
  • 1 raw egg, lightly whipped
  • 1/2 cup of plain bread crumbs
  • 1/2 red onion finely chopped
  • 1 tsp of garlic powder or 3 finely chopped cloves
  • 1/2 tsp of dry basil or a few leaves of fresh chopped 
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 cup of finely chopped veggies - I used bell pepper but several different ones work such as carrots or broccoli. This is a great way to "hide" veggies in a picky eater's meal.
Making the meatballs:

Start by mixing the dry ingredients into the ground beef. I usually just use my hands in a bowl, but if you don't like touching raw meat, throw everything in a gallon size Ziploc baggy and mush everything up from the outside. Then, throw in the egg and mix again, followed by the fresh chopped veggies and mix once more.
I know my kids love peppers so I leave them roughly chopped. Go finer, or even use a food processor for the really picky eaters. Go ahead and start cooking the noodles, and heat up the marinara sauce before assembling the meatballs.
Make sure your grill is very clean before preheating it. I set it to a medium temperature for the meatballs. While the grill is heating up, form the meat mixture into 1" balls. Before setting them on the grill, use a basting brush or a paper towel to rub some cooking oil on the grill grates to prevent sticking. Otherwise some people use non-stick grill grids. Lay the meatballs on the grill:
Allow them to cook until they are no longer pink in the middle (160 degrees), turning them halfway through. It took about 8 minutes on my grill on medium. Take them off once cooked. My family loves bell pepper so I took the extra pieces and grilled them along with the meatballs to add to the spaghetti sauce.
 Once they are done, they should have some nice charring on the outside:
 Assemble with the noodles, marinara sauce, and fresh parmesan cheese:
 I choose to load on the grilled peppers too.
Bon Appetit!

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