|Meatballs and Marinara - Meatballs, tossed in a quick, homemade marinara sauce, topped with mozzarella cheese and served over rotini pasta. Add a side salad and some crusty bread for a fantastic meal!|
Meatballs and MarinaraThe Cajun loves meatballs. I swear his eyes literally light up when I say we're having meatballs for supper, without him knowing a thing about how we're having them. Just the word meatballs makes him happy!
Of course, I'm pretty sure he could also finish off a full 3 pounds of them in one sitting, if I let him. He is definitely your quintessential meat and potatoes man, so I do try to "fill in" with things like sauce, maybe some pasta, a little bread and a salad.
As to meatballs, I have a favorite meatball recipe that I've been using as long as I've been cooking, and I try to put up a big batch of them occasionally so I'll have some in the freezer. Since I had the chance to try and review the Daily Chef Casa meatballs from Sam's Club last fall, I sure changed my mind about frozen meatballs, and I love having some of those on hand too.
They are delicious and The Cajun absolutely loves them, and after all, that's what really matters, right? If you have the time, make up a batch of my basic meatballs, you won't be sorry, but if time is tight, fuggetaboutit! Just use your favorite fully cooked, frozen meatballs and I highly recommend Casa.
Instead, for this dish, I'm focusing on my own, easy to make homemade marinara sauce, that I've also been making forever, though of course, you can certainly substitute your favorite jarred sauce as well. The homemade sauce really makes this dish shine though, and it's much less work than starting from scratch with homemade meatballs, so I hope you'll give it a try!
Here's how to make my meatballs and marinara, and, as always, you'll find the full recipe with measurements, instructions and a printable further down the page past these step-by-step photos.
|Meatballs and Marinara with rotini pasta and a green bean salad on the side.|
Add tomato paste, cook and stir for another 2 minutes. You're lightly browning the tomato paste here, a process called a pince (PEEN-say) in culinary terms, which helps to extract more flavor from the tomato paste, adding a deeper richness to your sauce. Stir in diced tomatoes, tomato sauce and mild Rotel tomatoes, until blended. If you prefer a milder sauce, substitute another can of diced tomatoes instead. You'll have a bit more juice to the sauce, but it will work out fine.
Add wine, if using, sugar and Italian seasoning. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes, mashing the tomatoes and stirring occasionally. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees F and add remaining 1/2 tablespoon of oil to a large cast iron skillet over medium high heat. You can use whatever oven safe skillet you have, but cast iron will conduct heat more evenly and cook everything through more quickly. Place thawed meatballs into skillet, stir to coat with oil and cook for about a minute. Pour hot marinara sauce all over the meatballs and immediately place into oven for about 8 to 10 minutes or until mixture is bubbly and completely heated through.
Carefully remove and sprinkle the mozzarella over the top. Return to oven for about 3 minutes, or until cheese melts.
By the way, look what made an appearance again y'all - my Fasta Pasta! I'm telling y'all, I do actually find myself reaching for this multiple times a week. It's awfully handy, not only for all kinds of pasta and noodles, but for rice, potatoes, and all kinds of vegetables. Love it!
Spoon the meatballs and marinara over cooked pasta and serve immediately with hot crusty bread and a nice salad on the side.
By the way, leftovers of this on po'boy bread? Divine!
Recipe: Meatballs and Marinara©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
Prep time: 20 min |Cook time: 30 min | Yield: About 4 to 6 servings
- 1 pound homemade cooked or frozen Italian style fully cooked meatballs, thawed
- 1 tablespoon olive oil or cooking oil, divided
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
- 1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
- 1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
- 1 (10 ounce) can mild diced tomatoes with green chilies (like Rotel), undrained
- Splash red wine, optional
- 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
- Kosher salt, freshly cracked black pepper and/or Creole/Cajun seasoning, to taste
- 1 tablespoon of chopped fresh basil
- 1-1/2 cups shredded mozzarella
Heat 1/2 tablespoon of the olive oil in a deep, lidded saucepan; add onions and cook until tender, about 4 minutes, then add garlic and cook another minute. Add the tomato paste, cook and stir for another 2 minutes. Stir in diced tomatoes, tomato sauce and Rotel tomatoes until blended; add wine, sugar and Italian seasoning. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes, mashing the tomatoes and stirring occasionally. Taste and add salt, pepper and Creole or Cajun seasoning as desired. Stir in fresh basil.
Meanwhile preheat oven to 400 degrees F and add remaining 1/2 tablespoon of oil to a large cast iron skillet over medium high heat. Place meatballs into skillet, stir to coat and cook for about a minute. Pour hot marinara sauce all over the meatballs. Place into oven for about 8 to 10 minutes, or until mixture is bubbly and completely heated through.
Carefully remove and sprinkle the mozzarella over the top. Return to oven for about 3 minutes, or until cheese melts. Spoon over cooked pasta and serve immediately with hot crusty bread and a side salad.
Cook's Notes: Dried Italian seasoning contains a nice blend of herbs, however, if you have fresh herbs, may substitute 2 teaspoons total of a mixture of fresh herbs (basil, thyme, oregano, marjoram, savory, sage and/or rosemary) for the dried Italian seasonings if desired. Transfer any leftovers into a storage container as storing or leaving acidic sauces in cast iron for an extended period can take on a metallic taste otherwise. I use Hunts tomato sauce with basil, garlic and oregano. If you'd like a more wet sauce, increase tomato sauce to a full 14.5 ounce can. May substitute additional can of regular diced tomatoes for the Rotel, if you prefer to not have the heat.
Slow Cooker Big Batch Meatballs and Marinara for Pasta: Prepare as above, except omit the diced tomatoes and substitute two large (approx. 28 ounce) cans crushed tomatoes and increasing fresh herbs to 1/4 cup total. Lightly brown homemade meatballs, adding along with sauce to a 6-quart slow cooker and cook on low for 6 hours, gently stirring occasionally, if possible. If using fully cooked meatballs, add the last hour of cook time. Serve over cooked pasta with fresh Parmesan grated over the top, if desired, and omitting the mozzarella.
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