I am swamped these days. With an abundance of work and a fuller than usual social calendar, there is little time to plan menus, let alone cook.
As always, a well-stocked pantry is seeing me through. This lovely recipe from Nigellissima (a signed copy of Nigellissima, in case I haven’t mentioned it), takes advantage of some thoughtful shopping done previously to create a dinner that tastes fantastic and like I spent loads of time making it.
There are always cans of tomatoes, various kinds of pasta and Italian sausage around here. This is what happened when all those ingredients came together.
Start with the sausage.
I know sausages are kinda weird looking, but a picture is worth a thousand words or so, so here: a photo showing how to twist the casing to end up with meatballs. This is much easier than getting all the meat into a bowl and rolling meatballs. Less mess, easier and quicker.
Get all the meatballs into the frypan and begin cooking them.
While the meatballs are cooking, slice the scallions, or in this case, shallots.
When the meatballs are browned, add the shallots, along with salt and pepper and dried oregano.
Add the chopped tomatoes.
Then pour in the water from the rinsing out of the tomato can.
Then add the bay leaves, a half teaspoon of Italian seasoning and let the mixture simmer.
After 10 minutes, get the pasta started. Today: rigatoni.
Parmesan cheese is also always in the fridge. Slice some off with a vegetable peeler.
Meatballs and sauce are cooked.
Drain the pasta.
Add the cooked meatballs and sauce.
Top with Parmesan. Very tasty!
Shortcut Sausage Meatballs.
Original recipe here:
Shortcut Sausage Meatballs
There is always great jubilation in my house when meatballs are on the menu, and with this recipe it is easy to rustle them up in minutes. Instead of making up a meatball mixture with ground meat or meats, Parmesan, garlic, parsley, and egg, I simply squeeze the stuffing out of about a pound of Italian sausages and roll it into cherry-tomato-sized balls. It’s not so much that the making process is simplified, it’s that this recipe is easier on the shopping and fridge-stocking front. I’m not sure that, now, my children don’t prefer this version.
TOTAL TIME: 1 hr 15 min
Prep: 30 min
Inactive Prep: 15 min
Cook: 30 min
YIELD: 4 servings
1 pound hot or sweet Italian sausages
2 tablespoons garlic-flavored oil
4 fat or 6 spindly scallions, thinly sliced (I used 2 shallots)
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning
1/4 cup white wine or vermouth
Two 14-ounce cans diced tomatoes, plus water to rinse 1/2 can
2 bay leaves
Salt and pepper, to taste
Chopped fresh parsley, to serve (optional)
Squeeze the sausage meat from the sausages and roll small cherry-tomato-sized meatballs out of it, putting them onto a plastic wrap-lined baking sheet as you go. Your final tally should be around 40.
Heat the oil in a large, heavy pan or flameproof Dutch oven and add the meatballs, frying them until golden; as they become firmer, nudge them up in the pan to make room for the rest, if you can’t fit them all in at first.
When all the meatballs are in the pan and browned, add the scallions and oregano and stir about gently.
Add the wine or vermouth and diced tomatoes, then fill half of one of the empty cans with cold water and tip it into the other empty can, then into the pan. The can-to-can technique is just my way of making sure you rinse out as much of the tomato residue as possible.
Put in the bay leaves and let the pan come to a fast simmer. Let cook like this, uncovered, for 20 minutes, until the sauce has thickened slightly and the meatballs are cooked through. Check the sauce for seasoning, adding some salt and pepper, if you like.
During this time you can cook whatever you fancy to go with the meatballs, whether it be pasta, rice, whatever.
Once the meatballs are ready, you can eat them immediately or let them stand, off the heat but still on the stove, for 15 minutes. The sauce will thicken up a bit on standing. Should your diners be other than children who balk at green bits, sprinkle with parsley on serving.