Monday, May 28, 2012

Farm Fresh Pasta with Ricotta Meatballs

The weird things people do… I was walking around my apartment complex and I saw such a strange sight. A Meijer shopping cart was secured to the stairs of a different building with a bike lock. Wha?!? Someone steals a shopping cart and then makes sure no one can steal it from them. How weird is that?

Anyway, I digress. 

Most times when I have spaghetti, I prefer my dad’s spaghetti sauce. I’ve started making it myself and freezing it smaller portions so that I can defrost and enjoy it any time I want. Although whenever I eat my dad’s spaghetti sauce, it needs to be regular noodles topped with the sauce and a little bit of parmesan cheese, just the way it was when I was growing up. However, sometimes I enjoy some whole grain pasta primavera chalked full of fresh veggies. Add some meatballs and you have a great meal.

So, today I got home, checked the fridge and collected all vegetables I had readily available. Today it was spinach (fresh from one of my friend’s gardens, yum!), zucchini, mushrooms, tomatoes and onion. So those were all of those things I threw together for this pasta dish. I was craving some red meat so I quickly whipped up these little meatballs that are held together with some ricotta cheese. From start to stop, this dish was completely in less than 30 minutes. Perfect!

Zucchini and Spinach Spaghetti with Ricotta Meatballs
1/3 lb ground beef
¼ cup breadcrumbs
2 tbsp ricotta cheese, low fat is fine
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tsp Italian seasoning

1 serving whole wheat spaghetti
1 small zucchini, thinly sliced lengthwise
2 cups raw spinach
1 medium tomato, finely chopped
3/4 cup chopped mushrooms
1 garlic clove, minced
1/3 cup chopped onion
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1/8 cup chicken or vegetable broth
Salt and pepper, to taste
Parmesan cheese, for garnish

Preheat broiler.

Combine the meatball ingredients in a small bowl and mix thoroughly. Roll mixture into balls, approximately 1 tsp per meatball (I got 22 meatballs). Broil on a broiling pan covered with cooking spray for approximately 6-7 min. **You can make larger meatballs; they will just take longer to cook.

Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti according to the package. With approximately 3 min left in the cooking time, add the zucchini and spinach to the boiling pasta. Drain the vegetables and pasta.

To make the sauce, combine the tomato, mushrooms, garlic, onion, seasoning and broth in a small pan. Bring to a boil and reduce heat. Cover and stir occasionally until the onion and mushrooms are cooked through, approximately 10-15 min.

To serve, layer half of the zucchini followed by half the spaghetti and spinach on a plate. Top with half the sauce and half the meatballs. Garnish with grated parmesan cheese, if desired.

Serves 2.

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