Pasta is my ultimate comfort food. There is just something about a big bowl of noodles covered in a thick, rich sauce that warms me to my core. On weekends, I will sometimes spend all day laboring over a big pot of Bolognese or "Sunday" sauce but I don't have as much free time these days so I decided to create a version that was easy to pull together but didn't lack that slow cooked flavor. My original inspiration for this recipe came from a tomato sauce recipe I discovered in Food52's Genius Recipes by Kristen Miglore. It's a simple sauce of tomatoes, butter and onions that takes literally almost zero effort to whip together and delivers a delicious result that can be used on just about anything. I tweaked their version a bit and added meatballs to the simmering sauce to create a version that can be made on a week night when you have a little extra time. I hope you enjoy!
Easy Tomato Sauce
1 28 Ounce Can of Whole San Marzano Tomatoes
5 T Butter
1 Medium Onion, Sliced
1 T Honey
½ tsp Salt
¼ tsp Ground Cinnamon
1/2 lb. Lean Ground Beef
1/2 lb. ground pork
1 Large Egg
1/3 Cup Whole Milk
1 Cup fresh ground day old white bread crumbs (I give mine a spin in my food processor)
½ Cup Parmigiano Cheese, ground (I grate my cheese in the food processor until it looks like coarse sand)
1 T Chopped Fresh Parsley
1 Large Garlic Clove minced fine
1/8 tsp Fresh Grated Nutmeg
½ tsp Salt
Fresh Ground Pepper to taste
2 T Olive Oil
Rigatoni, cooked to package directions.
Grated Parmigiano or Pecorino Cheese for serving.
In a Dutch oven, add the tomatoes, butter, onion, cinnamon, salt and honey. Heat until the sauce begins to simmer and the butter has melted. Cover and continue to simmer over low heat for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. You can prepare the meatballs while the sauce cooks. After 30 minutes, the onions should be tender. Add the sauce to a food processor or blender and process until smooth. Return the sauce to the pot and continue to simmer.
Add the ground meat to a medium size mixing bowl. Whisk together the milk and eggs and add to the beef. Add the bread crumbs, cheese, parsley, garlic, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Using your hands, mix the ingredients together until they are well combined but be careful to not over mix or your meatballs will be tough. Gently press the meat mixture into the bowl and make a cross using your hands into the top of the meat to divide it into 4 equal portions. Take each quarter of meat and roll it into two equal size meatballs. Continue with the rest of the mixture until you have 8 meatballs in total.
Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, fry the meatballs for 3-4 minutes until a crispy, brown crust forms. Flip the meatballs and repeat on the other side. Remove the meatballs from the oil and drain on a plate lined with a paper towel for a minute. Add the meatballs to the sauce, cover and cook for an additional 15-20 minutes at a simmer until the meatballs are cooked through. I usually cook my pasta while I wait for the meatballs to finish cooking.
Spoon the pasta into shallow bowls and top with two meatballs and a ladle full of sauce. Grate fresh Pecorino or Parmigiana over the top and enjoy!