Meatball Marinara over Linguine

Comfort foods are a must in the midst of a rough El Ninõ winter - and nothing says cozy more than slow simmered meatballs over a bed of pasta.  I prefer the thicker Linguine noodle to the shoestring Spaghetti, but whatever makes you happy.  Use the search tool or click here to see a previous post for home made marinara sauce.

 Using different proteins add deeper umami. Lean sirloin offers rich beef flavor while ground pork delivers sweeter accents and the needed fat to make up for the leanness of the beef.

The meatballs will continue to cook, absorbing more flavors, while they simmer in the sauce.

What you will need:


 Ground Sirloin - 1/2 lb
 Ground pork - 1/2 lb
 Parsley - 1/8 cup chopped
 Basil - 2 Tbsp chopped
 Garlic - 3 bulbs
 Spanish Onion - 1/2 chopped
 Olive Oil - 2 Tbsp
 Eggs - 2
 Salt - 1 Tbsp
 Pepper - 1 Tbsp
 Chilli Flakes - 1 Tbsp
 Bread crumbs - 1/2 Cup
 Oatmeal - 1/8 Cup
 Brown Sugar - 2 Tbsp


Pre-heat oven to 425

Prepare marinara sauce and simmer.

Combine the olive oil, onion, garlic, chili flakes and half of the salt and pepper in a large sauté pan over medium heat to breakdown onions and garlic.  Once translucent, remove from heat and set aside to cool, leaving as much of the remaining oil in the pan.

In a large mixing bowl combine the rest of the ingredients and mix by hand.  Yes, by hand.  It's cold, and gooey, and awesome!  Fold in the slightly cooled onion mixture.  

Now that you have a consistent meat loaf, pinch off small hunks to form balls in your hands and place in the onion mixture oil over medium heat.  You can make your meatballs any size you want - golfball sized meatballs will yield about 15-16 balls which is about an ounce a piece if you do the math.  Bigger will take a little longer to cook through, but it's your party, do what you want!  Brown the meatballs on all sides to create that crisp texture and sealing in the juices.  I love using the stainless steel All-Clad pans, because you can put the whole thing right in the oven.  If you're not using a stainless steel pan, transfer the meatballs to a cookie sheet and put in the oven for a couple of minutes to finish crisping the outside. 

Transfer the meatballs to the simmering marinara sauce while you make your pasta.  Or make yourself a cocktail and relax while they simmer away until you are ready to Enjoy your feast.  

Spaghetti Squash Chicken Parmesan & Homemade Marinara Sauce

The Spaghetti Squash is a hidden gem when it comes to winter vegetable and a lighter alternative to pasta. The texture is a little al dente when cooked and plays well with a marinara sauce.  Preparing the sauce and squash with a breaded chicken breast and nutty Parmigiano add additional layers of flavor and protein.

A variety of tomatoes will bring out individual characteristics - the farmers market had earthy Vine, hearty Beefsteak and sweet Roma.

Once finished, the meat of the Spaghetti Squash can be pulled from the walls with a fork and tossed, leaving an organic bowl for serving.

What you will need:

Cutting Board
Cookie Sheet
Large Saute Pan
Food Processor 
Large Pot
Large Knife - to split the squash


 Spaghetti Squash - The brighter yellow the better
 Tomatoes - 4lbs Cored, Quarter and Deseeded
 Garlic - 4-5 cloves minced
 Red Onion - 1 bulb minced
 Fresh Basil - 2 Tbsp chopped
 Fresh Parsley - 1/8 Cup chopped
 Bay Leaf - 2 leaves
 Red Chili Flakes - 1 Tbsp
 Olive Oil - 2 Tbsp
 Butter - 2 Tbsp
 Parmigiano - 1/2 cup grated
 Tomato Paste - 1 small can
 Red Wine - 1 Cup
 Ground Black Pepper- 2 Tbsp
 Sea Salt - 2 Tbsp
 Chicken Breast - 1 lb sliced into strips
 Eggs - 2
 Bread Crumbs - 1/2 cup


If you only have about an hour, make sure to get the squash in the oven right away.  However, if you have extra time on your hands, make the sauce first and let it simmer away while you work on the squash.  
Pre-heat oven to 375 - 400

Halve the Spaghetti Squash lengthwise. Gut and remove seeds. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with pepper and salt.  Bake on cookie sheet for 45 min.

While the squash is cooking, make the sauce. Blend the tomatoes in a food processor until all the chunks are liquified.  Melt butter in a deep stock pan.  Sauté onions, garlic, pepper, chili flakes and salt until soft.  Add basil, parsley and tomato puree, bay leaves - in that order. Stir in tomato paste.  Bring all of that to a slow bubble to breakdown the ingredients.  After a couple of minutes, add red wine - I like a nice dry California Zinfandel or Cabernet because of the deeper complexity and because that's what I drink while it simmers.  

Once the squash is done, pull the 2 halves out and let cool enough to be handled.  Heat up the remaining olive oil in a skillet.  Beat the eggs with a pinch of salt, pepper and chili flakes.  

Dredge the chicken in the egg mixture, coat in the bread crumbs then into the frying pan.  
Use a fork to pull the spaghetti strings from the wall of the squash inside the shell.  

With your chicken cooked, the squash tossed and your sauce simmered, it's time to combine them.  Spoon the sauce into the shell on top of the bed of spaghetti strings.  

Layer the chicken and more sauce to the brim of the shell and top with a generous portion of the grated cheese.  

Broil the dish just enough to melt and crisp the cheese.     Enjoy!