I had about a half a pound of ground grassfed beef in the freezer. It really wasn’t enough to make burgers, and Roberto has been craving meatballs lately. So I decided to make some pasta with red sauce and mini meatballs.
In my constant quest for pasta that is good for you, and doesn’t make me symptomatic, I came across another option from DeBoles– my favorite pasta company. Most of their pastas are made with a flour other than or in addition to wheat. I have had 100% corn (my favorite), and a Jerusalem artichoke/semolina mix, and now Ancient Grain. Ancient Grain is a mixture of organic spelt, quinoa and amaranth, along with organic whole grain semolina and organic whole grain durum. It packs 32 grams of whole grains per serving, and cooks up just like regular pasta.
Due to my issues with grains, I don’t cook pasta very often. But every once in a while it is nice to have a nice steaming bowl of pasta with red sauce, and for those occasions, I am thankful that I have these ready made pastas available. When I eat it, I try to eat more sauce than pasta, actually!
I wanted to make a nice sauce to go with it. Roberto, being Italian and a lover of pasta, does eat it more often than I do. For those occasions, he goes with a nice local organic jarred sauce. There was about a half a jar left of sauce in the fridge and a ¾ can of tomato paste. So this is a leftover queen recipe for sure! I added to those the mini meatballs, onions, garlic, wine and dried porcini mushrooms from Marx Foods. There is a giveaway of these porcini mushrooms (and morels) going on over at The Foodie Blogroll this month. So if you haven’t commented over there to win, please do! The mushrooms are excellent and added an amazing depth of flavor to my sauce with a mere pinch or two of the small broken bits and powder at the bottom of the bag. The sauce turned out dark and thick, perfect for coating the penne. With a nice crumble of soft goat cheese and a quick grate of Parmiggiano cheese on top, it was a great and extremely flavorful winter meal.
The other wonderful thing about this dish besides the wonderful flavor, is that it is also extremely inexpensive and would serve a family nicely with a side salad. This is a great way to stretch your grassfed beef, if you are worried about cost. This dish serves 4, and was about $1.75 per serving.
½ lb of grassfed ground beef, formed into bite sized meatballs
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 TBS fresh thyme
salt and pepper to taste
¼ cup red wine
1 ½ cups red sauce (from a jar)
¾ can of tomato paste
½ tomato paste can of water
2 TBS of dried porcini mushroom powder and small bits
1 box of De Boles Ancient Grain Pasta
cheese to top with – use whatever you have available!
In a large skillet, with a lid, over medium heat, place the mini meatballs in the pan with enough room in between them that they are not touching each other. Brown on all sides, with the lid on to avoid splattering. Add the onion and garlic and cook with the meat for about 2-3 minutes. Add the fresh thyme, and salt and pepper. Then add the wine, sauce, tomato paste water, and dried mushrooms. Stir together, cover pan, and cook over low-medium heat for about 15 minutes. Check every 5 minutes or so for liquid. Add more water if sauce gets too dry. In the meantime, heat water for pasta and cook according to the package directions.
Before topping pasta with sauce, add a nice drizzle of good extra virgin olive oil to the sauce and mix in. Then top the cooked pasta with the sauce, and add cheese on top, if desired.