Appetizers

Gina’s Eggplant Caponata

 

Eggplant Caponata

Eggplant Caponata

Eggplant, also known as aubergine is probably my all-time favorite veggie. It’s so versatile and is used in many cuisines throughout the world. Today, I am sharing with you my eggplant caponata that I have been making for many years. I have tweaked it a little, to reflect the ingredients in the traditional version. It originated in Sicily and there are a few recipe variations. Traditionally it’s served with hard boiled eggs and crusty bread. Ideally, I recommend using green Sicilian olives, but to stay within budget, I use pimiento-stuffed Spanish olives. This recipe can be doubled for a larger crowd.

Serves: 2-4 as a side dish or 4-6 as an appetizer – Level of difficulty: Easy – Prepping time: 5 minutes  Cooking time: 15-20 minutes.

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium eggplant, cut-up in cubes*
  • 1 – 1.25 tsp. sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil + more to drizzle
  • 1/4 cup onions chopped
  • 1/4 cup celery, chopped
  • 1 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup tomatoes, chopped *
  • 1/4 cup Pimiento-stuffed Spanish olives, drained
  • 1 tbsp. capers, rinsed
  • 2 tsp. red wine vinegar
  • 1-2 pinches of sugar (dissolved in vinegar)
  • pine nuts, optional
  • basil, cut into chiffonade for garnish

    Preparation:

    1) Season the eggplant with salt and pepper.
    2) In a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat, heat olive oil, sautee onions and celery for about 2-3 minutes. Stir occasionally.
    3) Add eggplant, it will absorb the oil, it’s ok, just keep stirring to avoid burning for 2 minutes or so.
    4) Add tomato paste, brown until it caramelizes, another 2 minutes. Keep stirring.  Add tomatoes, olives, capers, vinegar/sugar, pine nuts.
    5) Lower the flame to medium and cover with a lid. Let it simmer for about 10-15 minutes. Stir occasionally. Remove.
    6) Serve in a bowl. Drizzle with olive oil, garnish with basil.

Wine pairing suggestion: A Nero d’Avola for red, or  Insolia for white wine lovers. Both grape varieties are indigenous to Sicily and would make a stunning pairing with the caponata.

Cook’s notes: 1) I used Pomi brand chopped tomatoes. If you want it to have more sauce, add more tomatoes.  You can certainly use fresh tomatoes. 2) Feel free to add more oil, if you need to. 3)  Buy the eggplant the day before or preferably the same day if possible to ensure freshness.

Buon Appetito!

Base recipe, method of cooking and photos
by Gina Martino Zarcadoolas for Foodiewinelover
My Food, Wine & Travel Lifestyles

Gina’s Luscious Tomato Bruschetta

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Luscious tomatoes

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Bruschetta is a classic Italian appetizer. It’s a commonly mispronounced Italian word. In America, many people say bru’shetta, but in Italian, it’s pronounced: bru’sketta. How ever you pronounce it, it’s an easy and enticing appetizer. Your guests will enjoy every bite of its lusciousness. I suggest that you have two loaves of bread on hand, in case you burn the first batch. It’s happened to me a couple of times, but luckily, my guests never found out. It’s important that you are glued in front of the oven, because that one extra minute will create an unappealing presentation and an unpleasant taste. Follow me, and let’s have some fun in the kitchen.

Degree of difficulty: Easy –  Serves: 8-10 as an appetizer

Ingredients:

-2 lbs. of grape tomatoes, cut-up
-1/4 tsp. of sea salt
-Freshly ground black pepper, optional
-1 tbsp. flat-leave Italian parsley, chopped
-1 tbsp. basil leaves, chopped
-1-2 garlic cloves, minced
-1 tbsp. red wine vinegar
-3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil (+ more to drizzle)
-2 loaves of bread, sliced diagonally
-Parmegiano Reggiano, parmesan cheese for grating

Preparation: 

1) In a medium-sized ceramic or glass bowl, mix tomatoes, salt, black pepper, parsley, basil, garlic, vinegar and oil together.
2) Refrigerate for a minimum of an hour before serving.
3) In a single layer on a flat tray, drizzle the bread with olive oil and broil for 2-3 minutes until it’s golden brown in color. Remove immediately.
4) Spoon the tomatoes on top of the toasted bread. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Serve at once. Voila! Repeat the process as needed.

Cook’s Notes:
1) Broil the bread, just before your guests arrive
2) Instead of adding garlic to the tomatoes, you can rub it on the bread before broiling it and then, toss it out. It is an Italian technique.
3) Do not use the top shelf of the broiler as it is too close to the burner.
4) Do not leave the oven unattended.
5) Use Italian or French baguette bread

I hope you will make this delightful appetizer. I suggest you practice broiling the bread a couple days before your event.  This way, by the time your guests arrive, you have mastered the technique.

Wine suggestions: Sparkling wine, Prosecco, Champagne or a lovely crisp white wine of your choice.

Wishing all of you a Happy, Healthy & Prosperous New Year full of bubblies!
Have fun and stay safe!

Gina/Foodiewinelover
My Food, Wine & Travel Lifestyles
WSET-Level 2 Certified Wine Connoisseur
Culinary Aficionado & Lover of Global Cuisines

Recipe: Foodiewinelover
Photos by Gina Martino Zarcadoolas for Foodiewinelover

Gina's Luscious Tomato Bruschetta

Keftedes, Greek Meatballs

Keftedes

Making Keftedes, Greek Meatballs

Keftedes, Greek Meatballs

Keftedes

Keftedes

Keftedes, Greek Meatballs

I married a Big Fat Greek Family, and we all love to eat Greek food.  Hubby’s Aunt Jennie is an excellent cook, and used to own a restaurant. She also loves to entertain family and friends. I learned a few things from her, about Greek Cuisine.  She makes the best Keftedes, leg of lamb, Pastichio, Moussaka, Spanakopita, and a very scrumptious Baklava. She always tells me her meatballs include 10 ingredients, but I never write them down. So I am going by memory here. I can easily call her, but this dish came out so delicious. As the saying goes, if it ain’t broken don’t fix it. I use a little breadcrumbs in this recipe, but I noticed some recipes call for some white bread.

Serves: 6-8  Level of difficulty: Medium
Yield: 24 meatballs more or less depending on how big you make them. You can use an ice cream scooper to make them evenly.

Ingredients:  

  • 2.5 ground sirloin
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 ounce of fresh mint leaves, chopped
  • 1 large handful of flat-leave parsley, chopped
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano, or 2-3 sprigs of fresh ones, chopped
  • 1/2 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
  • 2 eggs
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • Olive oil for fryingPreparation:

    1) Prep the first 10 ingredients, and place in a large bowl. Mix well and form the meatballs.  I always taste test one first, by pan frying it, this way, I can add more seasoning, if necessary.

2) You will work in batches. In a large skillet, cover the bottom
with olive oil and heat it over medium-high heat.  Always make
sure, oil is hot before pan frying, otherwise, you will end up with
soggy meatballs.  Place meatballs in a single layer, and pan fry for about 6-7 minutes on one side, then flip them and fry an additional 6-7  minutes on the other side.  You may have to lower the flame to medium-heat at that point, otherwise, if it’s too high, they will get very dark. Do not overcook them as they will dry up. This may take some practice. You can also bake them for a healthier version.

3) Remove, and arrange them on a plate. Garnish with some mint leaves.   Serve it with some Tzatziki Sauce on the side. The meatballs  can be served as a Meze, an appetizer, or serve it with a Greek Salad for a full meal.

I can assure you, you and your family will enjoy this Greek deliciousness.

Get cooking, and let me know how they come out!

Kali Orexi

Disclosure: I do not get paid to mention the Fage brand, I happen to like their Greek Yogurt. Please make sure meat is fully cooked to avoid the risk of food-born illnesses.

Mango Salsa

Mango

Mango Salsa

Mango Salsa

Mangos are cultivated throughout various regions of the world.  There are many varieties that are used in chutneys, salsas, or simply eaten raw.  They are a delicious and versatile fruit, and very refreshing in the summertime. In several cultures, its fruit and leaves are ritually used as floral decorations at public celebrations, and religious ceremonies. Recently, I participated in an event on Facebook, that required the use of mangos, as an ingredient. Of course, I had to get involved, and decided to make a quick and easy salsa. This dish can be eaten by itself, with tortillas, or over white fish. I have used it on cod-fish, and it came out delicious.

Ingredients:

Mango Salsa

  • 1 ripe mango, diced
  • 1/4 red bell pepper, diced
  • Jalapeño, chopped to taste (optional)
  • 1 handful of cilantro, chopped
  • Himalayan salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • Sprinkles of turmeric
  • Juice of one lime
  • drizzle of extra virgin olive oil 

    Preparation:

Combined all the ingredients and chill in the fridge for at least an hour.

Bon Appetit!

Baba Ganouj, Eggplant Dip

Eggplant

Eggplant

You say Baba Ganoush, Baba Ghanoush, Baba Ganouch, I say Baba Ganouj or Baba Ghanouj.  In my opinion, they all may be right depending on what region of the world you’re from. Baba Ganouj is a typical Middle Eastern dip made with eggplant. I learned how to make it from my Arabic Mom. If you love eggplant like I do, you will enjoy this recipe. It’s simple, healthy and yummy. Ideally, it is better to char the eggplant on an open flame for more intense flavors, however, today I will share with you the roasted version, and a quick story to go with it. Many years ago, (when I was in my twenties) I was roasting an eggplant, then, I heard a loud explosion. I looked in the oven, and the eggplant had splattered all over the oven. I realized, I needed to pierce some holes in the eggplant to let the air out. Who knew? LOL! It was scary and funny at the same time. I learned my lesson since that experience.

Serves: 4-6 as an appetizer

Level of difficulty: Easy – Medium

Ingredients:

  •  1 large eggplant, roasted
  •  1 lemon, juiced
  •  2 -3 garlic cloves, chopped
  •  1 handful of flat leave parsley, chopped
  •  Salt and Pepper to taste
  •  Extra Virgin Olive Oil, generous amount + more to drizzle
  •  2 tbsp. Tahini (Sesame paste) found in some grocery or specialty stores. Highly recommended

Preparation:

1) IMPORTANT! Pierce holes in the eggplant with a fork or knife, to avoid it from exploding in your oven. Drizzle some oil on a tray, and roast the eggplant in a 400 degree oven for about 30-40 minutes, or until soft on the inside.

2) Remove from the oven, scoop out the eggplant pulp with a spoon, leaving the skin.  Put it in a medium-sized bowl,  and use a masher to break it down until the desired texture. I don’t like it too creamy, but that’s a personal preference. Add lemon, garlic, parsley, salt, pepper and Tahini. Mix well. Drizzle with a generous amount of olive oil, and serve with Pita chips.

Tip #1) When choosing eggplant, make sure they are firm, with no bruises. After you buy them, I recommend that you use them within a couple of days. I can’t begin to tell you how many times, I had to throw eggplant away, because they got buried in the vegetable bin section of the fridge. You will notice the brown spots all over. Some eggplants can be bitter, luckily for me, that was never an issue. I hear some people are allergic to eggplant, please be aware of that.

Tips #2) If you buy the Tahini in a jar, after sitting for a while, you will notice the oil will surface to the top, make sure you stir it well before using it.

Happy New Month! Bon Appetit from My Kitchen to Yours,

Gina

 

Caprese Salad

CapreseSaladFoodiewinelover
In 2007, my family and I embarked on an amazing Italian trip, and one of the itineraries was Capri. It is a breathtaking island, and we took a ferry from the bay of Naples to get there.  We visited the famous Blue Grotto, ate some regional cuisine, and took a tour of the island. I must admit, I was very scared going up the mountains on the tour bus, but it  was a travel experience that I will never forget. Today, I am sharing with you an easy and delicious dish, the Caprese Salad.

It’s been in the 90’s already in South Florida, and I couldn’t think of a more refreshing salad, called Insalata Caprese, in Italian.  It literally means Capri Salad because it originated in that magnificent island. In Italy, it is usually served as an antipasto, and made with fresh mozzarella, tomato, and basil. The colors represent the Italian flag. My son recently brought me home a basil plant, and I already had some beefsteak tomatoes, and leftover Mozzarella that I recently used in my Chicken Parmigiana. I always have extra virgin olive oil, and balsamic vinegar readily available. I was on the go, and needed a quick-lunch, and this salad hit the spot. It was a great way to reminisce about our trip. (We were there again in 2008, but that’s another blogpost.)

Serves: 2 as a meal – Super easy

Ingredients:

  • 1 Beefsteak Tomato, sliced
  • Fresh Mozzarella, sliced
  • Basil leaves, for garnish
  • Drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
  • Drizzle of Balsamic vinegar, of Modena
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

Preparation:

Arrange the tomatoes and Mozzarella on a serving plate, lightly season with salt & pepper, liberally drizzle with olive oil, and some balsamic vinegar. Garnish with basil leaves.

Voila, the salad is ready to be served! It is such a beautiful culinary creation, and so easy to prepare. Make it for your guests, and I assure you, they will love it.

Happy Cooking from My Kitchen To Yours!

Gina

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Capri, Italy, June 2007 – Hubby and me

 

 

 

Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms

Zucchini Blossoms

Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms

When I lived in New Jersey many years ago, my uncle used to have a zucchini garden in the summertime. He often made Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms, and I always enjoyed them. He also put them in scrambled eggs. Since then, I moved to South Florida, and could not find them anywhere.  On occasions, I would enjoy some, at a nearby Italian restaurant, but I always wanted to make it in my kitchen. Recently, my son PJ told me, he knows someone who’s growing zucchini. I screamed on the top of my lungs, and told him to get me some. Well, he came through for me, because today he brought me a nice amount of them. Needless to say, I was ecstatic.

Since I’ve never made them, I sought the assistance of some amazing friends who guided me in putting this recipe together. Giusy gave me the ratio for the beer and flour batter, and Angela suggested to make them the traditional Roman style, with fresh mozzarella and anchovies. It was a MAJOR HIT!

Serves: 4-8 Total:  15 zucchini flowers, keep them in a cool place so they don’t wilt.  Level of difficulty: Medium, because it takes a little time, and you have to treat them gingerly.

   Ingredients:

  • 15 zucchini blossoms, (flowers)
  • 1 cup beer, room temperature (Heineken)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • Olive oil for frying
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • Anchovies, fillet flat, 1 can
  • Fresh Mozzarella cheese, as needed
    Preparation:

     

    1) With a dry paper towel, gently clean the flowers. Remove the stamens, (pollen inside the flower) DO NOT ATTEMPT TO WASH THEM, YOU WILL BREAK THEM.

    2) Stuff each flower with a dollop of mozzarella cheese, (about 1 teaspoon or so depending on their size) and 1/2 of an anchovy fillet. Squeeze the top of the flower gently to close it. It will not be perfect, don’t worry about it. The batter will protect the stuffing while cooking. Set aside.

    3) Prepare the batter, by combining the flour with the beer. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Mix well with a whisk until you obtain a creamy texture.

    4) In the meanwhile, pour oil to cover the bottom of a frying pan, heat up on medium-high heat. Gently place the zucchini flowers in the batter, making sure, they are coated well. ( I did them in batches) and drop them in the hot oil. It will be messy, and it’s ok, just have confidence. Cook on one side for about 2-3 minutes, lower flame, if it’s too high, you want them light golden brown and not dark brown. Cook other side for another 2 minutes. Remove promptly. Serve at once. They will literally melt in your mouth. If you don’t like anchovies, then omit them. (sorry, but you will miss out). My family went bananas over this stuffing. You can also stuff them with ricotta cheese, and use club soda instead of beer, for a lighter batter.

    Please keep in mind a recipe is to be used as guideline, it’s up to you, the homecook, to watch the food, and use your judgement. Adjust the temperature setting as necessary. When frying, always make sure the oil very hot, otherwise, the food will come out soggy, and not presentable.

    This batter can be used to fry some veggies such as zucchini and cauliflower. The choice is yours.

    I hope you will have some fun in your kitchen, and try this delectable recipe.

    Happy Cooking From My Kitchen To Yours,

    Gina

    Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms

Shrimp Saganaki

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Shrimp Saganaki

I love everything Greek! After all, I’m married to one, and to his Big Fat Greek family.  One of the things they enjoy doing, is eating, and they love celebrating everything with food. I do have some knowledge on the Greek culture, because I had the opportunity to visit some beautiful places in Greece. I’ve also made some wonderful Greek friends on Facebook. One of the biggest staples in Greek cooking is Feta cheese, and I love it on almost everything. There’s nothing more Greek than that in my opinion. I love it in salads, omelettes, recipes, with Pita bread, or by itself. Today, I will share with you a lovely recipe made with shrimp and feta cheese, and it’s a winner in my book. The name Saganaki is given to dishes that are cooked in this frying pan, with two handles. Traditionally, this pan is used in making shrimp dishes, and to flambe’ some delicious Greek cheeses. You don’t need this specific pan to make this recipe, but I wanted to share some of the Greek traditions with you. Some traditional recipes call for tomato paste which I love using, and they also leave the shell on the shrimp. It does make for a killer presentation.

Serves: 6-8 Level of difficulty: Easy

 Ingredients: 

  •  1.5 – 2 lb. large shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails on
  •  3 tbsp. olive oil + more
  • 6-8 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 pint roasted cherry tomatoes
  • 2 tsp. oregano
  • 1/2 – 3/4 ounce ouzo, Greek liqueur
  • Salt and black pepper to taste *
  • 4-6 oz. Feta cheese, crumbled *
  • Flat leave parsley, chopped for garnish

Preparation:

1) Place tomatoes on a tray, drizzle with olive oil and salt. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 20-30 minutes, or until caramelized.

2) In the meanwhile, In a “Saganaki” or a large frying pan, over medium-high heat, heat olive oil, sautee the garlic, 1 minute, add the shrimp. Cook for about 3 minutes. Deglaze with ouzo, turn the shrimp, add the tomatoes, oregano, black pepper, cook for 2 minutes. Lower the flame to medium-heat,  add the Feta cheese, and cook an additional 1-2 minutes, or until the shrimp are no longer translucent. Garnish with parsley. Drizzle with olive oil. Serve with orzo, potatoes or pasta. I served mine with whole-wheat angel hair. This dish makes a wonderful meze, which is Greek for snack or appetizers.

*Be careful with the salt, as the feta is already salty. I like to buy the feta in a container, and crumble it myself. It has a fresher taste than the already crumbled one.

If you don’t have ouzo readily available, use some dry white wine, it will be the next best thing. However, ouzo is the way to go in this dish, in my opinion.

I hope you have enjoyed this blogpost, and will attempt to make it soon for your loved ones. It will be the talk of the town, I promise you.

Happy Cooking from My Kitchen to Yours!

Gina/Foodiewinelover
My Food, Wine & Travel Lifestyles

 

 

 

 

Finger Licking Chicken Wings

Chicken Wings

Chicken Wings

Most of the time we go out to eat chicken wings, and usually order it Buffalo style.  This time, I have created an Asian/Caribbean fusion version of this recipe that you will find absolutely delicious.

Serves: 6 – 8 as an appetizer – 4 as an entrée with a side dish.
Level of difficulty: Easy – medium

Ingredients:  

  • 4 lb. whole chicken wings
  • 3 tbsp. soy sauce, low sodium
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 2 handful of cilantro
  • 1 tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp. freshly grated ginger
  • 4 tbsp. honey
  • 2 scallions, chopped for garnish
  • Salt and ground pepper to taste
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes, optional


Preparation: 

1) In a blender, or food processor, combine soy sauce, olive oil, garlic, cilantro, vinegar, ginger. Blend together, but make sure there are bits and pieces of garlic to give it some texture. Set aside.

2) Place the chicken wings in a single layer on a large tray, season lightly with salt and black pepper to taste, (Soy sauce tend to be salty, please take it easy on the sodium) on both sides. Pour the mixture on the wings, drizzle the honey. Mix well with your hands, and make sure the wings are nicely coated with mixture. Cover with foil.

3) In a 350 degree oven, place the wings on bottom rack, bake for 30 minutes. Remove the tray from the oven.

4) Remove foil. Broil on the middle rack for 10 minutes. Turn them, broil other side for an additional 1o minutes.  The entire cooking process takes about 50 minutes.  (30 minutes baking, 20 minutes broiling) The wings should have a nice golden brown color, with a caramelized sauce. Please make sure, the chicken is cooked through before attempting to taste it.

Place the wings on a serving platter, with the sauce on the side. Garnish with scallions. Serve with a side dish of your choice, or as an appetizer. My family devoured all the wings in a blank of an eye. They thought it was a home run!

Happy Cooking! Keep Smiling at your food and your food will smile back at you.

 

Veal Meatballs with Pecorino Cheese & Sweet Italian Sausage

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A few weeks ago, hubby asked me to cook for his golfing buddies, since they were playing near the house. I gracefully agreed, and decided to make some veal meatballs over spaghetti. When cooking for a hungry crowd, pasta is always a good idea. I could have easily made a meat sauce, but I decided to get a little fancy, and made meatballs with Pecorino cheese. These delicious meatballs were inspired by D’Angelo Pizza and Wine Bar, but I created my version.

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VealMeatballs

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Serves 8-10     Degree of difficulty: Medium – Difficult

This recipe can easily be divided in half. I am sharing it with you, because I was cooking for a crowd and needed a lot sauce. Normally, I recommend using a marinara sauce for these meatballs, as veal is a more delicate meat, and they can easily fall apart if don’t watch them carefully. In general, marinara is much quicker, where the standard sauce is a slow cooking process. Do not use the sausage in the marinara, as it will crowd the sauce too much. The veal by itself will make a nice appetizer to serve at a party, and will wow your guests. You can also serve them with a side of ricotta cheese. As you can see, there are many variations to this dish.

Ingredients:

  • 3 lbs. ground veal
  • 12 oz Pecorino Romano cheese, grated, divided in half
  • 1 small onion, grated
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 cup of whole milk
  •  3/4 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • A large handful of chopped Italian parsley, flat-leave
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 lbs of Spaghetti or any pasta of your choice

Preparation:

1) First, prepare the meatballs. In a large bowl, place the ground veal, breadcrumbs,  6 oz of grated cheese, milk, garlic, onion, seasonings, parsley and eggs. Combine all the ingredients and mix well with your hands. If you are a beginner cook, I suggest you use an ice cream scoop with handles to form your meatballs. Place them on a greased pan, and  bake in a 350 degree oven for 10 – 12 minutes. Turn them halfway through, to get color on both sides. Remove and set aside. You can certainly pan-fry them also, but it would take a little more work. There is no need to fully cook them as they will continue to cook in the sauce. Yields about 25-26 meatballs using the ice cream scoop.

Ingredients for the sauce: 

  •  4 lbs. sweet Italian sausage with fennel
  • 3 – 4 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 container of Pomi chopped tomatoes, or other brand
  • 1 Cento, (size #10 can) fully prepared Spaghetti sauce *
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • Oregano, salt & pepper to taste
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup of water
  • a pinch or two of sugar, optional

Preparation:

1) In a large pot, over med-high heat, add 2 tbsp. olive oil, and brown the sausages (whole)  on both sides.  You will do this in batches. Next, cut the sausage links in 3 pieces each. Set aside.

2) In the same pot, add more olive oil to brown the tomato paste. Cook and stir, until you get a nice caramelization, add the chopped tomatoes, the prepared sauce, the seasonings, sugar and the water. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat. Add the meatballs and the sausage in the sauce. Simmer covered for 2 – 2.5 hours, while stirring FREQUENTLY to avoid burning on the bottom of the pot.  Always taste for flavor and adjust seasoning as needed.

3) When sauce is nearly done, boil the water for the spaghetti and cook according to package directions.

Please note, I took a big chance by simmering the veal for so long, 10 more minutes I would have had a meat sauce. I strongly suggest you do a marinara sauce for them, which will take about 30 minute to 45 minutes. I have been in the kitchen for 25 years and love to experiment and take chances. (making a funny face)

*This is not my typical sauce, because I was cooking for a large crowd, it was convenient for me to use that large can of prepared sauce, which can be found at Italian specialty stores. I occasionally change the brand in the quest for a perfect sauce.

Recommended sauce for the Veal Meatballs (for about 12) 

Ingredients for Marinara sauce: 

  •  1 – 2  28 oz can crushed tomatoes, San Marzano is ideal as they are known for their sweetness, but they will cost you a bit more.
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Pepper flakes, optional
  • 2-3 basil leaves, chopped
  • 1/4 cup of Chardonnay, optional
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/4 cup of water

Preparation:

Heat olive oil in med-sized pan, and saute’ the garlic. As soon, as they release their aromas, deglaze with wine, add tomatoes, water, seasonings and simmer covered for about 20-30 minutes. Stir occasionally. This marinara is enough for about 1 lb. of  pasta and 10 – 12 meatballs. (About half of the recipe above, more or less) PLEASE BEWARE, THE SAUCE WILL SPATTER, KEEP IT ON LOW AND USE A LID AS A SHIELD.

Now, that everything is cooked, it’s time to serve. I normally, place all the meal on the table, but in this case, I had everyone come up to me in the kitchen with their dishes, so I could have control  over the portions. They were very big eaters, and I wanted to make sure, I had enough for everyone.

With the holidays upon us, I hope,  you will try these meatballs with the marinara sauce. Not only, they will look festive, but I can assure you, they will be the talk of the town.

Happy Cooking and Happy Holidays From Gina’s Kitchen!

Wine pairing suggestion:  Chianti from the region of Tuscany. A luscious and widely popular wine made mostly from the red Sangiovese grapes.

 

 

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