"True wine enthusiasts don’t collect wines.
They collect memories of wines shared with friends and family."

-Dario Zucconi

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Succulent and Delicious Italian Meatballs; Basil Marinara Sauce

It has been a while since I have posted on A Drinkable Feast. This summer has been a little busy. But, it's gone by so fast. It felt like last week the kids were getting out of school for the summer. Now, they have already had their first week back to school, and we already had to do school projects. It's hard to believe that my oldest is in Middle School and my youngest is in Kindergarten. Time flies! Life is about to get even busier for our family, but my husband and I are blessed - truly blessed - to have 3 amazing kids who help keep us grounded.

This weekend, as I was sitting on the couch reflecting on the summer, I thought it would be a good way to say goodbye to the summer, and celebrate surviving the first week of school, by making a nice and comforting meal for my family. As I was flipping through my cookbooks and cooking magazines (which had been piling up), I was inspired by a recipe in one of my cookbooks that my friend Kelly gave me
("Food and Wine Magazine's Best of the Best").
I love this book!

The recipe is "Sicilian Meatballs with a Basil Marinara Sauce". These meatballs are the size of a small planet! They are by far the best meatballs I have ever eaten. They remind me of being in Italy. Our friends Nadine and Gail, and their family, were visiting. Everyone, including my children loved the meatballs. They were loaded with flavor from the garlic, onions, fresh herbs like oregano, parsley, and thyme (some of my favorite herb combinations). They were very moist from the bread crumb paste made of fresh bread crumbs soaked in milk for a few minutes. Cooking them in the oven on parchment paper helped them come out perfectly browned on the outside but juicy and moist in the inside. And, the Parmesan cheese gives them an earthy and homey flavor. http://www.finecooking.com/recipes/sicilian/meatballs/with/fresh/basil/marinara.aspx

Of course, as you know, I rarely make a recipe without modifying it slightly. For this recipe, I doubled the amount of everything. For the meat, I used a combination of lean ground beef and ground veal 2:1 ratio (2 pounds of beef and 1 pound of veal). Veal has a little more flavor and makes the meatballs a little more moist. My husband - who makes an amazing marinara sauce added some red wine to the sauce to give it some extra flavor.  I also love the beautiful, mouth-watering red color he achieved in making the sauce. We used red onions instead of regular onions. We served the meatballs with some bow tie pasta and sautéed garlic sugar snap peas from the Farmers' Market (my children love peas).

The kids had some fresh lemonade I made with lemons from our Meyer Lemon tree. The grown-ups enjoyed some wines from some of our favorite wineries (VJB Vineyards and Cellars and Arrowood Winery, both in Sonoma County, CA). The VJB wine was a 2009 Sangiovese - keeping with the Italian theme. Sangiovese is an Italian red grape varietal. This particular Sangiovese is a great, well balanced wine. In the glass, your eyes are greeted with a nice ruby red color. On the nose (always take a whiff before drinking the wine), you get a hint if dark cherry and ripe berries (like raspberry). On the palate, the wine is very smooth, not too much tannins. Wen you swirl it around in your mouth, you can taste the beautiful berry aromas that hit your nose and also a slight taste of chocolate and a hint of vanilla. It has a nice finish on the palate. VJB is also a great winery to visit. They have a beautiful and relaxing outdoor cafe where you can enjoy delicious wood-fired pizzas and gelato.  We are members of their wine club, along with our friends, Evelyn and Rene.  We all enjoy going up there for visits. So do the kids because they get to eat pizza and have gelato outside! http://www.vjbcellars.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=65&Itemid=92

I hope you all had a great summer. Here's to the new school year!

Until next time . . . Cheers!


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