It All Began with a Bottle of Brunello: Spaghetti and Meatballs for Two


When my friend Sandy brought us a bottle of Brunello di Montalcino wine from Italy, we saved it for a special dinner that would complement the wine. It’s not every day you get to drink Brunello, which is my favorite Italian wine. And out of my price range for everyday table wine.

We decided to make spaghetti and meatballs.

Most people use beef in their meatballs, or a combination of meats, such as beef and pork. Since we have no ground beef left in the freezer, as I’ve been griping about in recent blog posts, we opted for all-pork meatballs.

Because of his wheat allergy, Bill’s trick is to substitute rolled oats for bread crumbs to hold the meatballs together. We used a pound of ground pork and half a cup of oats. To that mixture, we added one organic egg, about a tablespoon of dried basil, some dried oregano, salt, and pepper.

After mixing well, we formed the meat into balls about 1 1/2 inches in diameter.

One of my favorite steps for anything I saute that doesn’t have garlic in it is to peel, smash, and saute a fresh clove of garlic in olive oil until golden brown. Then remove it from the pan, leaving the essence of garlic in the oil.

After that step, we browned the meatballs and put them on a paper towel to drain. Then we poured any excess grease from the pan, deglazed the pan with some dry red wine (such as the one you opened to drink with the meal!) and added pasta sauce. To simplify the process, we used a jar of sauce that’s Bill-friendly (wheat-free, corn-free, dairy-free). We really like Muir Glen Organic Tomato Basil Pasta Sauce. But making your own from scratch would, of course, be preferable.

Then we added the meatballs to the sauce, covered them, and cooked them for at least 20 minutes. (Even better, we recommend making them a day ahead.)

For anyone with wheat allergies, Pasta Joy makes a nice rice pasta that cooks in about 12-15 minutes. This is the brand we always use for Bill’s sake, and we’ve had good results. (Add a little salt when it’s cooked because rice pasta can be a bit on the bland side.)

We accompanied our pasta with a fresh Romaine salad from our local CSA. I simply dressed the greens with fresh-squeezed lemon juice, olive oil, sea salt, pepper, and shavings of pecorino (sheep) cheese.

Buon appetito! And cheers to Sandy for the wonderful bottle of wine!

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