When I came across a bag of anelletti pasta at Trader Joe’s, I knew I had to make my own version of Spaghetti-O’s with mini meatballs. I should say Spaghetti-O’s loaded with mini meatballs – just the way my kids like them.
Since this recipe is purely a fun one for Halloween night to remind us that we should all think — and eat — like kids once in awhile, I’m going to add this recreation of a childhood favorite to our culinary journey of flavors. After all, who doesn’t love a trip back in kitchen time?
Enjoy your O’s!
Mini Meatballs and O’s
1 pound anelletti pasta, cooked
1/2 pound ground veal
1/2 pound ground pork
1/2 pound ground sausage
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh basil
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh Italian parsley
2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano
1 teaspoon salt
2-3 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2-3/4 cup finely ground bread crumbs (depending on your taste)
olive oil for frying
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 shallot, minced
1 carrot, minced
1 celery stalk, minced or 1 Tablespoon dried celery leaves
28 ounce can diced tomatoes
6 ounce can tomato paste
8 ounce can tomato puree
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup heavy cream
16 ounces fresh mozzarella
Parmesan Reggiano cheese to taste
1. In large mixing bowl, combine veal, pork, sausage, chopped herbs, salt, eggs and bread crumbs. Roll mixture into one-inch or smaller meatballs. If you like perfection, use the large end of a melon baller for perfectly uniform meatballs.
2. Heat olive oil in large stockpot and fry meatballs until golden brown. Remove to paper-towel lined platter and season well with salt and pepper to taste.
3. When all meatballs are cooked, begin making sauce in the stockpot. Heat 2 Tablespoons olive oil and saute until soft the shallot, carrots and celery.
4. Add tomatoes, sugar and salt to the sauteed vegetables and simmer over low heat for 20 minutes.
5. At this point you have two options. Either puree the sauce until it is extra smooth like the sauce on traditional Spaghetti-O’s, or use a potato masher to break up the tomato chunks right in the pan. It’s up to you.
6. When sauce has been tasted and corrected for seasonings, stir in heavy cream. This adds a creamy richness to the acid of the tomatoes.
7. Stir in the cooked anelletti.
8. To serve, ladle into bowl and top with cut mozzarella and grated Paremsan Reggiano.
But remember, to duplicate the canned kid favorite, keep the sauce smooth and sweet, almost like tomato soup.