JEFF TIEDEMAN: Melt-in-your-mouth meatballsThese tasty morsels play well in a variety of recipes.
One of my favorite dishes as a kid was the spaghetti and meat sauce that we were served every week or two for school hot lunch at the old Cathedral in Crookston.
My late Auntie Helen — who was the head cook — shared a few of the recipes (including one for my favorite sloppy Joes) that were cherished by students, but I never did get the one for the red meat sauce, much to my dismay.
And even though acquiring a few good recipes over the years that are nearly as tasty, I’ve taken a different approach when it comes to combining pasta and meat.
I love tomatoes and anything that contains them, including sauces. But when they’re made with ground meat, I always end up eating more meat than is recommended by health experts, and in the process, consuming too many calories.
The solution I came up with was to have meatballs with my tomato sauce. That way, I could eat sauce to my heart’s content while keeping my meat consumption (and my weight) in check.
To me, there’s no more satisfying a meal than a plate of spaghetti topped with tender meatballs in a tasty marinara sauce. The meatball recipe I use is from one of the late Dom DeLuise’s cookbooks, “Eat This It’ll Make You Feel Better.” It’s called Dom’s Mom’s Meatballs. (See recipe at www.grandforksherald. com/event/tag/group/Life/tag/food/.)
Spaghetti isn’t the only food that is associated with meatballs. A lot of people I know grew up with something called porcupines, meatballs made with rice and ground beef and cooked in tomato sauce. Still, others are familiar with Swedish meatballs, which are served in gravy made with cream and beef broth.
I’ve also seen recipes for soups that contain meatballs. Italian wedding soup is one such recipe. This main-dish soup usually has richly seasoned broth and typically stars tiny meatballs made with veal and pork, assorted vegetables, tiny pasta and a green such as escarole, kale or spinach. (This is a great dunking soup, too.)
While the idea of putting meatballs in soup fits right in with my new philosophy, I’d never actually gotten around to throwing a pot together — until a week or so ago. That’s when I was given a meatball soup recipe by Senora Almquist, who with her husband, Basil, travels to Grand Forks from rural Cummings, N.D., three to four times a week to exercise at Altru’s Fitness Center.
The recipe, which is basically carb-free, is the creation of their son, Brad, choir director at Murray (Ky.) State. Brad has an extreme case of hypoglycemia, a condition commonly associated with diabetes, so he has to come up with recipes that do not contain foods high in carbohydrates such as root vegetables (white potatoes), English peas and cannellini beans — basically anything that stores sugar as starch. Most of his recipes contain two or three vegetables and a meat.
“As my dietitian says, ‘if it’s white, avoid it,’” Brad told me while he was back home for a visit recently.
Brad’s meatball soup recipe definitely is a keeper. I bet it even would have been a hit with my old schoolmates.
Tiedeman is food editor at the Herald. Reach him at (701) 780-1136 or toll-free at (800) 477-6572, or e-mail at email@example.com.