Monday, December 19, 2011

My "Presidential" Linguine and Meatballs

"Presidential" Linguine & Meatballs
One of my favorite recipes, and assuredly a favorite among friends and family, is my recipe for linguine and meatballs.  The homemade marinara, flavored with sweet onion, garlic, pepper flakes and a medley of herbs, creates a wonderful “bath” for my succulent turkey—yes turkey—meatballs that burst with the flavors of fennel seed and sundried tomatoes and the freshness of basil.

This recipe is so special because it oozes a comforting casualness, while still serving up decadence, and can be whipped up in almost no time at all.  I've served it to business colleagues with the same success as with long-time friends and family.  And it never fails to impress, to my delight.  In fact, I am so confident in this recipe’s ability to suit any occasion that, when once asked, I named it as the recipe that I would likely serve the President, if so given the honor.  When I later recounted this story to some friends one evening, they immediately piped up and said, “Hmmm, Presidential linguine and meatballs.”  And the name has stuck ever since! 

Happy Eating!

Presidential Linguine and Meatballs
This dish keeps on the light and healthy side of the beloved pasta and meatballs dish, without sacrificing any of the savory delight that you would expect.  The use of turkey for the meatballs and the incorporation of fresh and dried herbs make it both hearty and light in the same bite.

¾ lb. linguine, fresh or dried
1.5 lbs. dark ground turkey
1 tablespoon of your favorite seasoning or spice blend
½ teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon fennel seed
¼ cup sundried tomatoes, chopped
¼ cup fresh basil leaves, rolled into a bundle and finely sliced
2 tablespoons of olive oil, plus a little extra for drizzling
28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes, preferably San Marzano
1 medium onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
½ teaspoon each of dried thyme, rosemary, basil and oregano
Sprinkling of sugar
Several dashes of Worcestershire sauce

Preheat oven to 400° F.

In a large bowl, combine the turkey, seasoning blend, a light sprinkle of salt, fennel seeds, sundried tomatoes, fresh basil and a drizzle of olive oil.  Be careful not to overwork the meat while mixing.  Next, form golf ball sized meatballs from the mixture and place them on a baking sheet.
Once all the meatballs are formed, place them in the preheated oven and bake for 10-12 minutes.

Add the 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a large sauté pan or skillet and place over medium heat and preheat.  Add in the onions and cook for 4-5 minutes.  Stir in the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook for another 1-2 minutes or until the onions are translucent.  Pour in the crushed tomatoes, a sprinkling of salt, the pepper, each of the dried herbs, a sprinkling of sugar and the Worcestershire sauce and stir to combine.  Add in the meatballs, cover and simmer for about 20 minutes or until the sauce has thickened and reduced.  Stir occasionally.

While the sauce is simmering, bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Once it comes to a roaring boil, toss in a generous amount of salt (at least 2 tablespoons) and add in the pasta.  Cook the pasta according to the package directions and drain when done cooking.

Pour the drained pasta into a big serving bowl and top with the marinara and meatballs.  Toss to combine.  For an added finish, sprinkle with fresh basil and freshly grated Parmesan.  Serve and enjoy!

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