Red Sauce with Homemade Meatballs and Italian Sausage

I LOVE RED SAUCE

Pasta is one of my favorite things in the whole world. It is such a comfort to me, the smell of garlic and tomato sauce transport me to a safe spot. it reminds me of home, family and love. A warm bowl of spaghetti or baked ziti is the ultimate comfort food for me. That being said, I have made my fair share of red sauce, and it is different almost each time I make it. Soon, I will get my great grandfather DiStefano’s recipe from my Grandma Annamarie, and when I do I doubt I will ever make it this way again. But I figured in the meantime I would share how I make my sauce, so those of you who don’t want to spend days making red sauce, can use these helpful tips to jazz up your canned sauce.

Ingredients 

Sauce

  • 2 24oz bottles of your favorite pasta sauce
  • 1 16oz can of diced tomato
  • 1/2 yellow onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • Italian Seasoning
  • Sugar
  • Salt
  • Olive Oil

Meatballs

  • 1lb Ground Beef
  • 1/2 cup Italian breadcrumbs
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 yellow onion
  • 1 clove of galic
  • Dried parsley
  • Italian Seasoning
  • Ricotta Cheese (optional)

Sometimes I add Italian Sausage to my meatballs, sometimes I just cook the sausage and toss it into the sauce separately, sometimes I don’t add any sausage at all. It is really up to you. You could also just do 2lbs ground beef and double up on meatballs or skip the meatballs entirely and just add ground beef to the sauce.  I’ve made sauce with just sausage, I have also made sauce with left over chicken breast as well!

Meatballs

I always start off with the meat, I want to get the meat started before starting the sauce so it can get into the sauce to simmer quickly.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees (If you have a cast iron skillet, place it in the oven while it preheats)

Add the ground beef and breadcrumbs to a large mixing bowl, grate 1/2 an onion into the bowl (you could also chop the onion if you like larger chunks) and add your pressed (or minced) garlic into the bowl as well.

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I eyeball everything, I have never measured my seasonings but, if I were to hazard a guess I would say at least 2 tablespoons Italian seasoning and 1/3 cup of ricotta cheese (I just so happened to have some left over ricotta I needed to use, that is the only reason it ended up in these meatballs). I also had some left over herb paste I squeezed into the mixture for good measure.

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Once all of the ingredients are in the bowl, take your rings off and mix that shit up, you could also use a spoon or spatula, but it never works quite as well.

Pull that cast Iron out of the oven and place your meatballs onto the pan while it’s still  piping hot. You can turn a burner on if you feel like the meatballs need to brown a bit more.

You want a the bottom of those meatballs good and browned before you flip them over and place them in the heated oven.

Bake the meatballs at 350 for about 15-20 minutes or until the center is 165 degrees.

Red Sauce

While the meatballs are in the oven, get your sauce started.

Add at least a tablespoon of olive oil to the bottom of your pot. I have been using olive oil from this great little shop here in Tallahassee called the Smashing Olive.

Turn your burner on medium and let your oil heat up a bit while you chop the remaining half of your onion. I also press my garlic at this point, so everything is ready.

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Add the onions to your pot and let them cook down.

Once the onions are translucent and slightly browned add your garlic and stir until it is fragrant.

Add your pasta sauce, I used this random sauce Roth and I picked up at Winn Dixie a few months ago, but my all time favorite brand is Mids. Also add your can of crushed tomatoes at this point and stir your sauce well.

Now add your seasonings, I always add  dried Italian seasoning and some extra dried parsley.

Add a pinch of salt and stir.

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Taste your sauce, if it tastes acidic add a dash or two of sugar.

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Tasting the sauce as you add ingredients is very important. I always tweak and adjust the seasonings as I cook. The sauce and tomatoes you use always effect the taste of the sauce, so it is important to taste if you are not using brands you’ve used before.

I made Italian sausage earlier this week, so I took the left overs and added them to my sauce so they didn’t end up going to waste.

Pull your meatballs out of the oven and put them right into the sauce, mix your sauce and taste once again to see if you need to add anything. Cover your pot and turn the burner to low, let the sauce simmer for at least 30 minutes so the flavors can blend.

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After the sauce has simmered you can serve it over pasta, mix it into a baked pasta dish or freeze for later use. I used half of the sauce for dinner that night and froze the leftovers for dinner later in the month. Freezing in a Ziploc bag lets the sauce defrost much quicker than it would in a tupperware.

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