Thursday, April 30, 2009

CEiMB - Spaghetti with Turkey Meatballs in Spicy Tomato Sauce (or, how to make a healthy lunch)


This week's Craving Ellie in Your Belly is brought to us by Oddball Oven Mitt (what a great name for a blog!)

This one came at the perfect time for me. I've been so busy at work and at home that my meal prep is almost at zero. I look in the fridge every morning on my way out the door, see tons of food, none of it suitable for lunch (ginormous celery root, anyone?) and leave empty handed. Once lunchtime arrives, I rush out to the Student Union and grab something that's not very healthy. I opted for orange chicken the other day, and all afternoon I felt ill. Too much MSG and simple carbs made me crash around 3. After an intervention by my trainer, I spent a couple hours that evening making the meatballs for this dish, and prepping the haul from my CSA box to allow easy portability (and readiness for snacks!) The next morning, I made the sauce and packaged up several lunches for the week, along with some basil to snip on with my scissors and some (not freshly grated) parmesan cheese. Big sigh of relief.


Enough about my lunchtime angst and back to the dish. I was excited to make this one because we love spaghetti with turkey meatballs. I purchased all the necessary supplies at Trader Joe's (love that place). I didn't notice that the fire roasted tomatoes were with green chiles, a la Ro-Tel tomatoes, but we like it spicy so I wasn't worried about using them and the chipotle chile. I keep canned chipotle chiles in a ziploc bag in the freezer, and break off an appropriate piece whenever I have a recipe that calls for some. Ditto tomato paste. I made the meatballs while watching TV and doing other veggie prep, and even though I broiled them like Ellie says to do in the cookbook, they burned got very brown. They were hard and dried out and I was a little bummed. I let them cool, packed them up and went to bed.



Before work the next morning, I threw together the spicy tomato sauce. I am learning not to doubt Ellie, because she's always right and it annoys me when she proves my mental taste buds are defective. Because I was doing three things at one time (of course finishing none of them), I managed to burn make the onions very brown. So I added the garlic and cooked it a few moments, then added the rest of the ingredients over the next, oh, 20 minutes. Then I checked the recipe and realized if I was going to stretch out the cooking time like that, I should at least let the golf balls turkey meatballs simmer in the sauce. I simmered the turkey meatballs for a few minutes, and let them languish in the sauce while I started three other things, and even finished two of the things I started before. Sweet!

So, you all know that I *heart* Ellie, but I think the portion sizes are wrong on this recipe. Either that or my measuring cup is defective. Or I bought the bottomless box of spaghetti by accident, the one that they make for households with teenagers and their football player friends. I have so much leftover spaghetti, I could make a spaghetti dinner. What's that? I just made a spaghetti dinner? Oh.


I almost danced into work that morning, with my Ellie meal in hand. When it was time for lunch, I nuked it for two minutes, added the parmesan cheese, and sat down to enjoy. The sauce had transformed the burned nicely browned turkey meatballs, and the flavor was fantastic. Spicy but with a hint of sweetness from the tomatoes. This is one I'll look forward to every day.

If you'd like to join us in cooking through Ellie Krieger's recipes, visit Craving Ellie in My Belly and check out how you sign up. It would be great to have you cooking along with us. Don't you want to open your fridge and know you have a healthy, tasty Ellie meal to take to work?

12 comments:

applecrumbles said...

Great post. Ted thought the meatballs were hard and dry. But he wants the full fat version of BEEF. I enjoyed the taste of my pseudo balls. Great sauce though. You're right spicy and sweet.

Sara said...

"I almost danced into work that morning, with my Ellie meal in hand."

How great is it to know that your lunch is going to be 100% tastier and better for you than anything any of your co-workers are getting out of a hermetically sealed plastic package?

Don't sweat it on the "browning," stupid broiler. Now if only I had a place to put a brand new salamander...

--Nick

Jessica said...

I know how you feel about the fridge full of food and nothing to eat because there isn't any time to create a meal. I haven't made this yet but I'm going to make it for dinner tonight.
The end result looks fantastic to me and I'm glad that you have yummy, nutritious lunches now.

Craving Ellie in My Belly said...

oooh, good idea to take this for lunch. I have some left over meatballs in the freezer, I may have to break them out for next week's lunch. I really love these meatballs so I am glad you enjoyed them despite their overindulgence in the broiler :)

pinkstripes said...

Sounds healthy and delicious. My kind of meal.

thenotsoskinnykitchen said...

My meatballs got a little over-broiled too, but they still tasted great! :)

And I was wondering the same thing about the pasta - there was quite a lot of it compared to the amount of sauce/meatballs. We still have a ton of it left...

Peggy said...

Your meatballs look just fine! And isn't 1 percent milk the same as skim milk? I drink 2 percent.
How can anyone love whole wheat pasta? I bet your co-workers were jealous of your lunch.

What's for Supper? said...

Great post. I love your individual servings of spaghetti. Looks like our refrigerator!

Megan said...

Interesting tip about the chipotle chiles. I have some in the fridge that I'll move to the freezer for longer storage.

I hope you didn't get too sick from the MSG - that stuff is terrible! I wish it was banned from the face of the earth!

Tracey said...

This meal sounds so good!! I think the same thing when I open my fridge...apparently it happens to a lot of us :)

Chef E said...

Actually I like my meatballs browned well, and with the sauce it adds some extra flavor!

I love your name and photo. It reminds me of some friends in Texas who have a mannequin standing upright by the front door, and they dress her up each week...too funny when you have had a glass of wine, and say I am sorry when you bump into her! See I called ' ' a her!

This sounds like a fun thing to do, and I admire how some of you admit to mistakes when they happen...now I am hungry for pasta!

Nancy/n.o.e said...

I'm like you and keep adobo chiles and green chiles in the freezer. I have two regular combo fridges with freezers, and they are the scariest places around. I just stick it in and slam the door!

Did you see that The Food You Crave won the James Beard Award Monday night? This spag + meatball dish looks great and I love your post. A real slice of life!
Nancy