Tag Archives: Italian

Grain-free meatballs

16 Mar

Our spring has turned very unspring-like this week, with a few inches of snow and colder weather returning to remind us that we live in Minnesota. So what can one do but make hearty comfort food?

Hey, I’m fully on board with that.

We’ve been trying to stay away from wheat, which really does a number on my system. So I decided to try making meatballs without breadcrumbs. I also tried to make it as vegetable heavy as I could. Voila! It’s our new favorite dish to add to any sort of good meal. These meatballs stand on their own as a protein for any meal but really are quite delicious with a simple tomato sauce over whole wheat noodles or, in my case, spaghetti squash, for a fully wheat-free dinner.

I use half ground turkey and half ground beef. I’ve been meaning to experiment with adding in some spicy sausage as well. Maybe next time.

Finely chop some onion, garlic, parsley and mushrooms. Make sure the mushrooms get chopped very well.

I think the mushrooms really make the dish. They add quite a bit of moisture to the meatballs and keep them from being too heavy or dense.

Mix everything together and add the seasoning of your choice.
I always add Arisco, my favorite Brazilian seasoning, to everything. It’s perfect in here for seasoning the meat. But you can always just use salt and pepper or steak seasoning or even a good Italian seasoning. You get to make the choice on what flavor you prefer.

Don’t be afraid to get your hands in there…it’s easier to form the meatballs by hand anyway.

Line a couple of baking sheets with foil, then form golf ball-sized meatballs and plop the meatballs on the foil-lined pans.

You could make them really tiny to serve at a party. Or maybe you just like tiny food. There’s no judgement here! Just make sure you adjust the baking time.

Put the pans into a preheated 425°F/220°C oven for 20-30 minutes. You’ll notice that they release some liquid. No worries…that’s why we use the foil.

They are best served hot just as they are or with your favorite tomato sauce over spaghetti noodles. Or in a bun with cheese and marinara sauce or possibly just popped into your mouth directly from the baking sheet.

WHAT? They wouldn’t all fit in the container that I was going to put in the fridge!


Grain-free meatballs
Serves 4-6

1 lb (1/2 kilo) ground turkey
1 lb (1/2 kilo) ground beef
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
4 cloves of garlic, finely minced
10 large button mushrooms, finely chopped (or about 2 cups)
1/3 cup parsley, chopped
Steak seasoning, or your seasoning of choice

Preheat oven to 425°F/220°C. Line two baking sheets with foil.

Mix all ingredients together, form into golf ball-sized rounds, place on foil lined baking sheets and bake at 425°F/220°C for 20-30 minutes or until completely cooked through.


Serve over spaghetti with your favorite tomato sauce topped with parmesan cheese.








Rabbit with Rosemary and White Wine

10 Jul

B’s pasta recipe had my mouth watering. I love how adding sausage pieces to a pasta sauce is like adding meatballs, and I don’t know why broad beans (fava beans) are not in pasta more often. It seems a logical combination. If the pasta is a first course, then how about a bit of rabbit to follow?

This recipe is from Marcella Hazan’s book Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking, which is a staple cook book for my husband and I. We made this rabbit dish a few years ago for friends, back when we didn’t even have a dining table in our tiny apartment. It was a memorable meal. Especially when the cat was slipped a taste by one of the guests and he went absolutely wild.

When I saw some meaty looking rabbit legs at the market, and Jason was back for a visit from out home in Trinidad, so it was time to make it again. It is actually a simple dish, but the final flavours are anything but.

The recipe calls for a full rabbit in pieces, but you could use all legs instead like I did.

Here is what is in the dish…

Rabbit, white wine, olive oil, celery, tomato paste, garlic, rosemary, beef bouillon, salt and pepper.

I bought farmed rabbit so I skipped the overnight soaking of the rabbit. I understand that is needed if you have a wild rabbit.

I started by adding the oil, garlic and diced celery to a pan, along with the rabbit. I chose a pan that would fit all of the pieces without overlapping. Over low heat, and with the lid on, I set this to cook for a couple of hours, turning the rabbit pieces occasionally. I think you could continue to cook until the meat is falling off the bone, so allow some more time if you can.

With the lid off I then cooked down the liquid that was in the pan from cooking the rabbit pieces.

When that liquid had reduced, in to the pan went the rosemary, wine, salt and pepper and turned the heat up to the point where the wine simmered. I mixed the bouillon cube with some tomato paste and water. When most of the wine had evaporated, I added the bouillon mixture. I kept the pan at a simmer, turning the pieces from time to time, until a thick sauce formed.

I served straight away on a platter, alongside some polenta with parmesan, a green salad and a good friend or two.

Buon appetito B. Do you mind if I picture you on a Vespa zipping around to get the ingredients for your next post?


Rabbit with Rosemary and White Wine
A recipe by Marcella Hazan from Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking


A 3- to 3 1/2 lb (1.25-1.5 kg) rabbit,  cut into 8 pieces (or a range of pieces as desired, make sure they are on the bone)
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup celery diced fine
1 garlic clove, peeled (I added more)
2/3 cup dry white wine
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary or 1 1/2 teaspoons of dried leaves
a pinch of salt
a healthy grind of black pepper
1 bouillon cube and 2 tablespoons tomato paste, dissolved in 1/3 cup warm water

Soak the rabbit in abundant cold water overnight, in an unheated room in cold weather or in the refrigerator. Rinse in several changes of cold water, then pat thoroughly dry with cloth or paper towels. (I understand this step is not required if your rabbit is farmed, not wild)

Choose a sauté pan that can contain all the rabbit pieces without overlapping. Put the oil, celery, garlic and the rabbit, cover tightly, and turn the heat on to low. Turn the meat occasionally, but do not leave it uncovered. (I would suggest cooking in this way until the meat is beginning to show signs of falling from the bone. A)

You will find that at the end of two hours, the rabbit has shed a considerable amount of liquid. Uncover the pan, turn the heat up to medium, and cook until all the liquid has simmered away, turning the rabbit from time to time. Add the wine, rosemary, salt and pepper. Allow the wine to simmer briskly until it has evaporated, then pour the dissolved bouillon cube and tomato paste mixture over the meat. Cook at a steady, gentle simmer for another 15 minutes or more, until the juices in the pan have formed a dense little sauce, turning the rabbit pieces over from time to time. Transfer the entire contents of the pan to a warm platter and serve promptly.

Pasta with Italian Sausage and Fava Beans

7 Jul

I love the detour into Italy, Alice! I’ve always wanted to visit Italy, so I will do so virtually with this pasta dish.

I found these fava beans at the farmers market. They are also known as broad beans.

I have never cooked with fava beans before, but I’ve always liked them in restaurant dishes and then I saw the most wonderful looking pasta recipe on a local Minnesota food blog RelishingIt.com. So this was just my excuse to finally try cooking with them.

So first, the fava beans need to be shelled. They grow in pods, like most beans and peas.

Then they need to be blanched – which just means that they should be dropped into a pot of boiling water for about three minutes, scooped out and then dropped into ice water.

The pale green outer skin peels right off, revealing a bright green bean.

Set them aside and begin the pasta sauce.

I browned up some spicy Italian sausage links and set them aside

Sauteed some chopped onion and garlic

Sliced up the Italian sausage and added it to the pan to brown up a bit more

Poured in the canned tomatoes, tomato paste and spices. I used a jar of tomatoes canned by my friends Dee and Bernt – they were delicious! I added some hot pepper flakes to add a little more zing! to the dish

And let it all cook down.

As the sauce was cooking, I brought a large pan of water to a boil,  added some fresh fettuccini and let it boil for a few minutes. Check the package for specific cooking times, keeping in mind that fresh pasta cooks more quickly than dried pasta.

I drained the pasta and added it along with the fava beans to the sauce

Tossed and topped with some fresh grated parmesan.

I got the large shreds of cheese by using a vegetable peeler on the chunk of parmesan. Using a nice Parmigiano-Reggiano will add so much flavor to your dish, so don’t skimp on the quality of the cheese.

Serve with a nice chianti.

Alice, I like the way your mind thinks and can’t wait to see where we’re going next.

Pasta with Italian Sausage and Fava Beans

1 pound fresh or dried pasta – fettuccini, pappardelle or other wide pasta
1 pound spicy Italian sausage
1 1/2 cups shelled fava beans
1/2 medium onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 teaspoon dried Italian spices or oregano and basil
1 1/2 cups crushed canned tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
½ teaspoon of red pepper flakes
Cracked black pepper
Shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano, for garnish

Bring a pan of water to a boil.  Once it is boiling, add the shelled fava beans.  Boil for two to three minutes.  Remove the beans from the heat, drain and place them into a bowl of ice water.  Let cool in the water for a couple of minutes. Then, remove the light green peel from the beans using your hands.  The fava beans will be bright green in color.  Set aside.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta.  Meanwhile, begin making the sauce.  Heat a large skillet and add the Italian sausage links to it.  When they are browned, remove and set aside.  Add the onion and garlic to the pan with a splash of oil and continue to cook for a few minutes over medium-high heat until the onions start to become somewhat tender.  Slice the sausage links and return the slices to the pan with the onions. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste and spices.  Cook for a few minutes until the flavors have combined a bit and the sauce has thickened. Add the fava beans and cook a few more minutes.  Taste the sauce and adjust the seasonings.

Add the pasta to the pot of boiling water when the sauce is nearly done. Cook pasta until al dente, remembering that fresh pasta cooks in less time than dried pasta. Fresh pasta can be purchased in the refrigerated section of the grocery store or made at home.  Reserve a bit of the pasta water, in case you need to use it to thin out your sauce.  Drain pasta and combine with the sauce.  Top with fresh cracked black pepper and  shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano

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