Thursday, January 4, 2018

Spaghetti and Meatball Bites

Cooking pasta is one of the most basic tasks for anyone who is new in the kitchen. How difficult can it be — all you do is add noodles to boiling water, right? Well, actually there’s a little more to it than that in order to ensure you get the tastiest pasta possible.
Here are a few of the tips I follow:
  1. Heavily salt the pasta water once it starts boiling. Emphasis on the word “heavily.” Like 2 Tablespoons per pound of pasta. Why? The pasta is absorbing the water while it cooks. So if the water is heavily seasoned, the pasta will absorb it and taste better. Add the salt after the water starts boiling so it doesn’t evaporate ahead of time.
  2. Bring your water to a rolling boil, not a simmer. The force of the boiling water will ensure that your noodles don’t stick together. Previous generations believed adding olive oil to the pasta was the answer to this “impastable” problem. But actually, the olive oil creates an oily film on your noodles, and as a result, the sauce doesn’t stick to the pasta as well. You should already be cooking your pasta in a big enough pot to generate a rolling boil without the water spilling over. Bit if you don’t have a big enough pot, just cook the noodles in smaller batches.
  3. Do not walk away from your pasta while it’s cooking! Stir the pasta every minute or so to prevent the pasts from sticking together. Or if you want a workout, go ahead and gently stir the noodles the entire time.
  4. Drain your pasta, but dot not rinse it with cold water. Your pasta comes out of the pot coated with a starchy film. This film helps sauces adhere to the pasta. The film will rinse off if you rinse the pasta in cold water. The only time you should ever rinse your pasta is if your are making a cold pasta salad. 
That being said, I absolutely did not rinse the spaghetti for this recipe. It’s very important that all of the ingredients stick well to the pasta to help keep it in a nest shape.

Spaghetti and Meatball Bites
Yield: Makes about 24 pasta bites

  • 1/2 pound spaghetti noodles
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups marinara sauce, divided
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 24 meatballs
  • Basil, if desired

  1. Cook spaghetti to al dente, about 7 minutes; drain and let cool
  2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit
  3. Combine cooled spaghetti with beaten eggs, 1 cup marinara sauce, mozzarella cheese, parmesan cheese, and garlic powder
  4. Spray muffin cups with nonstick spray
  5. Twist spaghetti on fork and set in cavity in cupcake pan
  6. Spoon 1 tablespoon marinara sauce over each spaghetti “nest” and place meatball on top
  7. Sprinkle more parmesan cheese over the top of each meatball
  8. Bake for 20 minutes or until meatballs are heated through and cheese is melted 
  9. Sprinkle basil on top and serve with more marinara sauce if desired

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