Spaghetti with veal and ricotta meatballs
The key to a good meatball is in the texture: the goal is lightness, a lack of density. Here, veal and ricotta work together to achieve that without any compromise in flavour. You may cook the meatballs in the tomato sauce if you wish. But the meatballs are more succulent and flavourful and the same sauce remains lighter if you cook the two separately and combine them just before serving.
- For the meatballs:
- ½ Spanish onion, minced
- 1 cup (250 ml) olive oil
- 1 tbsp (15 mL) minced garlic
- 2 lb (1 kg) ground veal (could be substituted for beef)
- 2 cups (500 mL) ricotta cheese
- 3 egg whites
- 2/3 cup (150 mL) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
- ½ cup (125 mL) minced parsley
- ½ bunch chives, minced
- 2 tbsp (30 mL) minced oregano
- 1 tbsp (15 mL) minced thyme
- Salt and pepper
- Spaghetti for 6
- For the tomato sauce:
- 1 medium Spanish onion, sliced thin
- 8 cloves garlic, sliced
- 4 tbsp (60 ml) olive oil
- 2 cans Roma tomatoes
- Leaves from 2 bunches basil
- 1 tsp (4 ml) cracked black pepper
- Salt to taste
Basic Tomato Sauce Recipe
In a saucepan, sweat the onions and garlic in oil until wilted and translucent – do not brown. Add the tomatoes with their juice, half the basil, and cracked pepper; cover and simmer 90 minutes. Pass through a food mill fitted with a medium disc and add remaining basil and salt to taste.
1. ln a heavy-bottomed skillet, sweat the onions in 2 tbsp (30 mL) of the oil until translucent. Add the garlic, sweat a minute longer, and then cool the mixture in the refrigerator. In a large bowl combine the veal, ricotta, egg whites, Parmesan, parsley, chives, oregano, thyme, and the cooled onion and garlic; season generously. Work it all together well with your hands for at least 5 minutes. Remove a small portion and fry it in hot oil. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.
2. Rinse hands under cold running water and begin forming meatballs of desired size, rinsing hands again as necessary whenever the meat gets sticky. Collect meatballs on a baking sheet. Dust them with flour. Heat one or two large skillets on medium-high, heat the remaining oil, and sear the meatballs in batches if necessary, browning them nicely on all sides before setting them aside to drain on paper towels.
3. Cook the spaghetti, reserving some of the cooking water.
4. While the pasta cooks, heat the tomato sauce, then add the meatballs and torn basil. Add the desired amount to the drained pasta. Fold to combine, add a little pasta water to lubricate if needed, and fold in the butter. Serve topped off with extra sauce and Parmesan to taste.
Serve paired with Stoneleigh Classic Pinot Noir