When Arthur Schwartz's "The Southern Italian Table" arrived on my desk last week, I had to make those gorgeous meatballs on the cover.
Schwartz is a talented writer and cook. His last book, "Arthur Schwartz's Jewish Home Cooking" won American cookbook of the year from the International Association of Culinary Professionals. He has been restaurant critic and food editor of The Daily News, and has run a cooking school in southern Italy since 2001.
I'll do the confession part first: I used dark-meat turkey mixed with ground beef. Not sure why. I love turkey meatballs. In any case, these are a cinch to put together (aren't meatballs wonderful that way?).
After they were browned in a skillet
then simmered in tomato sauce and ladled over spaghetti, we dined like kings.
Meatballs in tomato sauce
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large clove garlic, lightly crushed
1 can (28 ounces) imported whole tomatoes, with their juices
Salt, to taste
Crushed red pepper, to taste
3 fresh basil leaves, roughly torn
1. In a large flameproof casserole, combine the oil and garlic over medium heat. When the garlic begins to sizzle, lower the heat and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute or until the garlic starts to color. Remove the garlic from the pan.
2. Using a food mill, puree the tomatoes into the pan or use your hand to crush them as you drop them in. Turn up the heat until the mixture comes to a simmer. Add salt and red pepper.
3. Simmer the sauce, stirring often, for 12 minutes. Add the basil halfway through cooking.
2 cups dried crustless bread in 1-inch cubes
1 1/4 pounds ground beef (80% lean)
2 eggs, beaten to mix
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 cup grated pecorino cheese
1/4 cup coarsely chopped parsley
1/3 cup pine nuts
1/3 cup raisins
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup vegetable oil, or more if necessary (for frying)
1. In a bowl, soak the bread in cold water for a few minutes.
2. Meanwhile, in another large bowl, combine the beef, eggs, garlic, pecorino, parsley, pine nuts, raisins, salt, and pepper. Do not mix.
3. Squeeze the bread by fistfuls to drain it. Break it up with your fingers and add to the beef mixture. With your hands, mix the beef mixture well, blending the bread and meat thoroughly.
4. Using wet hands, roll the beef mixture into balls, making about 12.
5. In a skillet, heat a thin film of oil over medium-high heat. When it is hot, add the meatballs. Let them cook for a few minutes or until golden on the bottom. Using two utensils, turn the meatballs and cook a few minutes more until golden.
6. Add the meatballs to the tomato sauce and let them simmer gently for 15 minutes or until the meatballs are cooked through. Serve over spaghetti. Adapted from "The Southern Italian Table"
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ContributorsSheryl Julian, the Globe's Food Editor, writes regularly for the Food section.
Devra First is the Globe's food reporter and restaurant critic. Her reviews appear weekly in the Food section.
Ellen Bhang reviews Cheap Eats restaurants for the Globe and writes about wine.