Heavenly angel hair pasta with pesto and meatballs. Sheer, explosive simplicity.

Photo Mar 05, 4 51 12 PM.jpg

How to make amazingly delicious pasta dishes

Italian food makes for some of the best eating in the world. 

Fresh ingredients and "getting out of the way" of those ingredients are part of the story, and that's what we're doing here. As a nod to traditional Italian food (you know, the cuisine they actually cook in Italy), we're making our meatballs smaller than in Italian-American cuisine, and we're using pesto as the sauce.

Photo Mar 05, 5 48 30 PM.jpg

In Italy, food is dominated by vegetables and herbs (and occasionally, as with an arabiatta sauce, a bit of heat). Only when the Italians emigrated to the United States -- a land of large portions and lots of beef -- did we start to see meatballs grow in size, and they are almost always served here in red-sauce joints with a big plate of pasta. 

I love this dish because the flavors are so clear and full that you don't really need a lot of it on the plate to be sated. But ... you could give yourself a bigger portion if you want to honor the abondanza glee of Italian-American food.

Meatballs (polpette)

Photo Mar 05, 4 51 27 PM.jpg

Ground meat in Italy (polpe) gets rolled into little (-ette) balls. They're called polpette.  (Now you'll never forget the Italian word.)

But, tiny as they are compared to the two- to three-inchers you'll find in the US, they pack flavor and have a lovely firm texture on the outside when you make them this way. In Italy, they use ground pork, beef, or veal, or combinations of those three, in their meatballs. It's a great idea.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb sweet Italian pork sausage

  • 1 lb ground best-quality sirloin

  • 2 cups panko breadcrubs

  • 1 cup finely grated Parmesan

  • 1/2 cup finely minced parsley including the stems

  • 1 T kosher salt

  • 1/2 T black pepper

  • 2 eggs

  • 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream

Procedure

  1. After washing your hands carefully (clean hands, people!), combine all the ingredients to make the meatball mixture

  2. Place a piece of parchment paper in the bottom of your EuroCAST double roaster just big enough to cover the bottom

  3. Form the meatball mixture into 1-1/2 inch-diameter balls and place them side-by-side on the parchment paper in the lid

  4. Give each one a little nudge so they sit neatly in their row

  5. Bake in a 375 F oven for 20-25 minutes until lightly browned and cooked through.

Photo Mar 05, 5 45 25 PM.jpg

The meatballs, even though they're smallish, are formidable in flavor. Just a couple on the plate will do. Which means with this this recipe -- if you have as I do one plus an even number of teenagers (we are a table of three!) -- you'll have a few left over.

What to do with the extras? Gotcha covered. Stay tuned on our Instagram page (Instagram.com/eurocastcookware) with a few ways to deploy your secret stash of extra polpette -- and the extra pesto you're making below. 

Don't worry. They won't languish in the fridge. 

Pesto

Pesto with angel hair pasta is heaven. Just as great pasta is made of the simplest of ingredients (a great double-zero or semolina flour, egg, a hint of salt, and water), great pesto is made of an herb, garlic, Parmesan, S&P, and pine (or other) nuts. Oh, and lots of best-quality olive oil. 

And I love my red pepper flakes for added oh, hello. 

This pesto is so good you need strategies to keep you from just face-planting into it. First, serve it in a small bowl too tiny for your face. Second, serve with some lovely, simple, homemade buns. (I hate the word "rolls"). So, as you eat your angel hair pasta and meatballs with pesto, you can up your pesto game with the bun. Just do it.

This pesto is so good you need strategies to keep you from just face-planting into it. First, serve it in a small bowl too tiny for your face. Second, serve with some lovely, simple, homemade buns. (I hate the word "rolls"). So, as you eat your angel hair pasta and meatballs with pesto, you can up your pesto game with the bun. Just do it.

Just about everything in pesto would be just meters away from the cook's feet. Grab some fresh basil, grate some Parmesan off the wheel, and you're on the pesto path! We're using fresh ingredients and just getting out of the way. 

Ingredients

  • 4 cups lightly packed basil leaves

  • 5 cloves garlic

  • 1 cup toasted pine nuts

  • 1 cup finely grated Parmesan

  • 2-1/2 cups olive oil

  • 1-1/2 teaspoons black pepper

  • 1 T kosher salt

  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper

Procedure

  1. Place everything but the oil in your food processor and pulse until finely minced.

  2. Then, continue processing steadily while adding the 2-1/2 cups of olive oil in a steady stream bit by bit until it comes together. It's important to use a slow stream because you're effectively emulsifying the oil so it combines better with the other ingredients.

  3. Taste for seasoning and keep at room temperature until ready to use.

  4. Refrigerate in a covered glass container.

Grilled vegetables (sliced thin on a mandoline and grilled up in our grill pan) with chopped frisée and marcona almonds. While the vegetables are still warm, add the chopped frisée and perhaps some arugula. Season well. Drizzle with olive oil and red wine (or balsamic) vinegar. Gently toss. Color, texture, flavor. All simple. That's true Italian style.

Grilled vegetables (sliced thin on a mandoline and grilled up in our grill pan) with chopped frisée and marcona almonds. While the vegetables are still warm, add the chopped frisée and perhaps some arugula. Season well. Drizzle with olive oil and red wine (or balsamic) vinegar. Gently toss. Color, texture, flavor. All simple. That's true Italian style.

Things you could slice thin and grill and put into the salad. The edible flowers -- don't slice those. Just drop them all around. Turns any salad into an Easter Parade.

Things you could slice thin and grill and put into the salad. The edible flowers -- don't slice those. Just drop them all around. Turns any salad into an Easter Parade.

This makes a fair amount of pesto. How to store? Put it in the fridge. It's best not to freeze the end result of this recipe (cheese and ground nuts don't freeze nicely). There are ways you can construct a pesto so you can freeze it ... but I'd rather you just think about how to use that pesto in different foods the rest of the week. 

Omelets with pesto are classic, but why fuss with an omelet? Just put it on scrambled eggs (the world's easiest thing to cook in EuroCAST skillets).

Or ....

  • Put a little bowl of pesto out with a cheese tray (include a warn brie) and crackers. Warm brie on crackers with a smear of pesto, yes, please.

  • Make a pizza on the EuroCAST griddle and skip the tomato sauce, using pesto instead.

  • Spread it on a sandwich or flatbread.

  • Grill up some vegetables with a bit of S&P and then drizzle the pesto on it.

  • Make a fish stew and put a dollop in the middle.

Or, make something up! Pesto on kielbasa for a cross-cultural party! 

The top of our famous double-roaster is great for making bread. These buns, topped with sesame or caraway, are soft, smell great, and tear perfectly for dipping into the pesto or wiping the plate clean. Right? Who's with me? By the way, I hate the word "roll". It's a roll. But for deep, inexplicable-family-history-reasons, the word "roll" just doesn't appeal to me. And, "pass the rolls" feels funny to say. "Let's roll down the hill," on the other hand sounds great to me, and like a good idea. Wait, have I gone on too long about this? Eat the buns. With pesto. Or -- hey, a pesto butter! (Two parts pesto to one part softened butter, just mash it all together and store in the fridge.) Good for the rolls - uh, buns - and for dropping on vegetables, potatoes, steak.

The top of our famous double-roaster is great for making bread. These buns, topped with sesame or caraway, are soft, smell great, and tear perfectly for dipping into the pesto or wiping the plate clean. Right? Who's with me? By the way, I hate the word "roll". It's a roll. But for deep, inexplicable-family-history-reasons, the word "roll" just doesn't appeal to me. And, "pass the rolls" feels funny to say. "Let's roll down the hill," on the other hand sounds great to me, and like a good idea. Wait, have I gone on too long about this? Eat the buns. With pesto. Or -- hey, a pesto butter! (Two parts pesto to one part softened butter, just mash it all together and store in the fridge.) Good for the rolls - uh, buns - and for dropping on vegetables, potatoes, steak.

Paul WardComment