Saturday, February 5, 2011

Recipe of the Week 2011 #5 and #6: Katy's Spaghetti Sauce and Stuffed Shells

I'm combining the most recent two weeks of my self-imposed 2011 recipe challenge for this entry. I'm not slacking off on the cooking (I swear! I cook all the time!) so much as I'm slacking off on the blogging.

Back in December, one of my co-workers gave me a recipe for a simple but tasty tomato sauce. I was quite eager to try it; racks and racks of over-sweetened, specialty flavored sauces at the grocery store have left me with a certain amount of sauce fatigue resulting from tastebud overload. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy complex flavors, but I don't think that eighteen varieties of red sauce are necessary, especially since most of them taste really unbalanced.

Katy's recipe is quite simple:


  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 small onion (or larger, if you like your sauce onion-y)
  • 3-6 cloves garlic (to taste, I like my sauces extra garlicky)
  • 2 14 oz cans PLAIN tomato sauce (use the unsweetened kind if possible)
  • 1 28-32 oz can crushed or diced tomatoes
  • 1 bunch Italian parsley, OR oregano, OR basil
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Froth butter in saucepan over medium heat until almost brown.
  2. Add onions and sweat until they're about 2 minutes away from being done.
  3. Add garlic, reduce heat to low (burned garlic is the worst taste ever!) and cook 2-3 minutes
  4. Add tomato sauce and crushed tomatoes, then raise heat to medium until sauce is hot.
  5. Add salt, pepper, and herb(s) of choice to taste.
  6. Reduce heat back to low/medium-low, and allow the sauce to simmer for several hours
It's basically idiot-proof. The next time I make it, I plan on leaving it in the crock pot while it simmers so I can leave the house without having to worry about it burning down. 

I wound up making two batches of the sauce. The first, I served with my favorite meatballs:

  • 1 lb ground lamb (Harris Teeter has it)
  • 1 lb extra lean ground beef
  • 2 cups bread crumbs, plus 1/4 cup extra
  • 2-3 eggs
  • cooking spray
  1. Preheat oven to 300F. 
  2. Grease a large casserole dish with cooking spray.
  3. Put the extra 1/4 cup of breadcrumbs into a small bowl.
  4. In large bowl, combine meat and eggs with your hands (or use a food processor if you're squeamish). You'll want one egg per pound of meat. I like to use more than that because I prefer the texture to be more eggy.
  5. Add 2 cups of breadcrumbs to the meat and egg mixture. Make sure that they're evenly distributed.
  6. Pinch off small amounts of meatball mix and roll them into a golf ball-sized ball. 
  7. Dust the meatballs with breadcrumbs by rolling them in the small bowl.
  8. Bake the meatballs for about 30-40 minutes. 
  • How thick you make the meatballs will determine how long they need to cook. Smaller ones will cook faster than big ones (duh). There shouldn't be any pink in the middle when they're done.
  • Using pre-seasoned breadcrumbs will give a nice flavor with no effort on your part.
  • They freeze very nicely, but don't freeze them in sauce. They taste funny if you do that.
In addition to meatballs, I also made stuffed shells. I followed this recipe, but I used half the amount of spinach the recipe called for and left out the meat (a vegetarian friend was having dinner with us that day) and onions (there were already onions in the sauce). They turned out really well! If I make this recipe using meat, though, I'll need to use more ricotta cheese. I'll also probably use seasoned pork or lamb instead of veal, which is sort of a pain to acquire around here.

The next installment of this series will feature me breaking one of my primary rules of relationships: I'll be preparing a recipe that Matt's mom gave me. More on that then.

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