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Location: Northern California

Read all about the adventures of the Tsao Family during the summer of 2012

Monday, September 12, 2005


How not to slave over a hot stove

Have you ever noticed how there is room in your day for only a finite number of things? (By things, I mean people, hobbies, events; I also think there’s only so much room for things of the material variety, but that’s another post.)

I’ve been writing a lot lately both in my blog and in my offline notebook. That’s great; it makes me feel good. But eating makes me feel good, too. Thus the question: how to feed my creative self and also feed my physical self, not to mention the selves of my husband and children? In other words, how to spend the afternoon blogging and still have dinner on the table when the breadwinner comes home?

The answer is easy: Not-Too-Unhealthy Jazzed-Up Spaghetti with Meatballs

Even though Atkins, the South Beach diet guru, and the Zone guy all tell us that spaghetti will kill us, there’s really nothing easier to make and better loved by your family than a giant platter of noodles and sauce. This recipe isn’t too horrible for you because I use turkey sausage and not much oil. If you simply cannot eat noodles, try the sauce over a plate of steamed cauliflower or zucchini. (And good luck with that diet; I’ve been on one for twenty years.)

I love this recipe because I can cook the sauce in the afternoon when the little guy is napping, then leave it on the stove and cook up the noodles when the big guy gets home. Or, I can wait and start the meal at the last minute; it tastes just as good. If I’m feeling fancy, I can serve it with garlic bread and a bag-o-salad. If the produce bins are bare, I can serve just the spaghetti and be confident that I’ve included something from all of the major food groups with this one dish. Really, what’s not to love?

Not-Too-Unhealthy Jazzed-Up Spaghetti with Meatballs

Prep: 15 minutes
Cooking: 30 to 45 minutes

1 package turkey sausage (raw in casings, hot or sweet depending on mood)
1 jar pasta sauce (whatever’s on sale)
1 can chopped tomatoes, drained
2 T olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 T garlic, chopped
Other spices as desired
¼ to ½ cup red wine (any varietal)
Spaghetti or other noodles

1. Squeeze the sausage meat out of the casings.
2. Roll the meat into little balls.
3. In a large skillet, heat up the olive oil over medium/medium-high heat.
4. Place the little meatballs in the pan.
5. Turning them every so often, brown the meatballs.
6. When the meatballs are about ¾ done, add the chopped onion.
7. When the meatballs are browned and the onions are soft, add the can of chopped tomatoes, the garlic, and the jar of pasta sauce.
8. Simmer for as long as you can stand it, but don’t cook it to death. Once in awhile, give it a stir and add a glug of the wine.
9. About 20 minutes before you want to eat, boil the water and cook the pasta.
10. Marry pasta with sauce and the honeymoon is on!

Tip for feeding those fussy little people we call toddlers: Serve them pasta with butter and forget the sauce. Give them a chewable multi-vitamin for dessert.