Some recipes are easy. They take place in your mind and you know exactly what you want from them, you know exactly how they will turn out. They give you no trouble. Then there are recipes like this one. It started out challenging. It was a cold, wet, unpleasant Sunday, and I wanted venison stew. I had thawed out the venison for said stew. Then it was decided that we absolutely had to watch Game One of the ALDS on time, without taping it and watching it on our own terms. (The game was delayed, of course, so I could have done the stew after all.) Okay, we would have meatballs. Well, the meat hadn't thawed (I'd gotten a great deal on grass-fed ground beef, bought in bulk and frozen it.) Fine. I used a trick that usually works with shrimp - bowls of cold water, changed repeatedly. It worked eventually. I had arugula from the last of the farm share. It had frozen in my refrigerator.
What? Frozen? Yes. Some shelves of my refrigerator freeze. Some don't get cold enough to be considered safe in a commercial setting. They are never the same shelves at the same time.
Anyway, since it was all being cooked and I didn't have any more greens on hand I decided to go with the half-frozen arugula. Having it frozen actually worked out better in once sense, in that it chopped up more easily. I also learned that perhaps pecorino isn't the best cheese for a cheese sauce. It doesn't melt up quite right, as you can see from the picture. Oh well. It still tastes good. It tastes great. And that was the great thing about this meal. For all the hassles and inconveniences and turn-arounds with this one-dish meal, it was really worth it. My daughter even liked the meatballs, her least favorite food. All three of us really enjoyed this whole meal, despite the delay in the game.
Pasta with Meatballs and Greens (serves 4; approx. $3.29/serving)
1 box whole wheat pasta, prepared according to package instructions
1 bunch arugula, washed and chopped
1 onion, chopped
5 garlic cloves, chopped
1 pound ground beef
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup vegetable broth
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons whole wheat flour
3/4 cup grated pecorino cheese
- Large saute pan
- Mixing bowl
- Slotted spatula
- Combine the meat, nutmeg, garlic powder and egg in the mixing bowl. Knead until well combined.
- Form into balls about the size of a walnut. Set aside.
- Wash your hands and heat the oil in the saute pan.
- Add the meatballs and brown on all sides. Evacuate the browned meatballs to the plate with the slotted spatula. You can add a little more oil if need be.
- Add the onion and garlic to the pan. Saute until browned.
- Add the arugula and saute until wilted.
- Meanwhile, melt the butter in the saucepan.
- Add the flour. Stir constantly until a nutty aroma arises. Do not divert your attention or this will burn.
- Add the broth and the wine to the saucepan and bring to a boil. Boil until the sauce is thickened and reduced slightly.
- Add the cheese and stir until melted. Meanwhile, return the meatballs to the pan.
- When everything is heated through and the sauce is done, transfer the cooked pasta to the serving bowl.
- Add the meatballs and greens to the bowl.
- Pour the sauce on top.