Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Last Fall, I meant to pick every last leaf of parsley and basil to make large stores of pesto for the winter. I managed one nice batch before the frost withered the basil leaves and the snow buried the parsley. I’m sorry about the lost basil, but pleased as punch about the parsley which perked right back up as soon as the snow melted and has quickly returned to its vigorous early November habits. I’m quite sure that the package of tiny seeds I bought last spring did not mention any winter-hardy qualities, but only the chives and the sage match its density (although one-inch sprigs of mint, thyme, and rosemary are putting on a good early show themselves). The other thing that “popped out” (to use my son’s terminology) this week is out our friend’s baby, so while Renee took new baby pictures I cooked. These meatballs highlight the backyard parsley and store beautifully for days in the fridge or weeks in the freezer, an ideal dish to make in volume and share with friends or (newly expanding) families.

Spring Parsley Meatballs

1 lb ground beef
1 egg
½ cup bread crumbs
½ cup grated parmesan
½ cup finely chopped parsley
Leaves from 2 sprigs fresh oregano
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. pepper
1 can tomato paste

Pour all ingredients into a large mixing bowl and mix with hands just enough to blend well. Form the mixture into balls. You can freeze them at this point to cook later, or cook the meatballs in gently simmering tomato sauce for about 30 minutes. Serve immediately or refrigerate or freeze in sauce.

Any tomato sauce is good with meatballs, but I find that a blended sauce best highlights the meatballs. We posted a fancy one a few weeks ago. But with the meatballs, all you need is the most simple blended tomato sauce. I used this:

Simple Blended Tomato Sauce

1 large onion, chopped small
2-3 carrots, chopped small
1 clove garlic, smashed
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 T olive oil
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. pepper

Sauté the onions in olive oil until barely translucent, 3-5 minutes. Add the carrots and garlic and sauté for another 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, salt and pepper, bring to a simmer and cook 20-30 minutes. Blend in two batches. Return to the pot to cook meatballs.

Serve over spaghetti, linguini, or angelhair pasta.