Cook It! Spaghetti with Oat-Meatballs

Sunday, November 02, 2008 Jonette 0 Comments

Hello, everyone. Alas, dust has collected on my poor blog, and it deserves a good shaking-out and new posts. I had to delete a few drafts in the process. To be honest, right now I'm creating so many things faster than my blogging can really catch up to. As I mentioned in Twitter, I'll give my sewing a sabbatical of sorts and focus on cooking, baking, and updating the blog. Hmm... speaking of which, if you see a number of posts in the future talking about certain sewing projects, please don't be surprised. It's just bringing the blog up to speed is all. :)


With that said and done, on to the food!

This was another dish I picked up from good pal and Poppa Paul Lazo (the very same guy who brought us Baked Eggplants in Tomato Sauce.) . It's a good dish when you want no-fuss meatballs and sauce to set aside, ready for customization for other recipes.

Spaghetti with Oat-Meatballs
you will need:

  • Cooked Linguine or Spaghetti
  • 1 cup diced white onions
  • 2-3 tablespoons crushed garlic (about 3-4 large cloves will do)
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup ground beef
  • 1/2 cup ground pork
  • 2 packets tomato sauce
  • about 3 tablespoons olive oil for the muffin tray
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil for sauteing
  • pepper and salt to taste, hot sauce optional
  • You will also need a cooking range, an oven, and a cupcake/muffin tray for this.
** Good for two

Let's get started! 

  • Start cooking your pasta. (you can either cook it according to manufacturer's instructions, or try this: over medium-low heat, 4 cups tepid water, 2-3 tablespoons olive oil and a pinch of rock, sea, iodized or what-have-you salt.) While waiting, take your ground beef, ground pork, and rolled oats. Rolled Oats will help keep the meatball together while cooking better than cornstarch can -- and, you can also consider it a bit of healthy fiber in your healthy, baked protein. :)
  • Add salt and pepper to taste. If you have a few favorite herbs to toss in, now would be a good time to do so. Rosemary, Thyme, Cayenne, Turmeric, Ginger -- your call. Mix them well. Make sure you mix them up so well you're unable to tell where Cow starts and Plant and Pig end.

Note: an update from Paul -- if you happen to have some fresh spinach lying around, you can chop the leaves up (just the leaves, mind you) and toss them in for additional veggie flavor. Plus, more iron and folate for you! ^_^

before mixing...

... and after mixing.
  • Get your clean muffin tray, and with the three tablespoons of olive oil, coat the bottom and sides of each tub with your fingers. After that, take about a two heaping tablespoons full of the ground-meat-n-oats mix, and form into a ball. Drop into a muffin tub. do the same for the rest until either meat or tubs run out.
Note: feel free to be generous with the size of your meatballs, depending on how much you meat you enjoy biting into.

Meatballs in muffin beds, ready for the oven.
  • Fire up your oven to 200 degrees Celsius, or Gas Mark 4. (As of right now, I'm not sure if it's wise to turn the oven up at this time. I've read somewhere that preheating the oven can be really wasteful, specially if you're going double-duty like this recipe.) Go and pop the muffin tray right in, and make sure it's nicely positioned in the middle. Set your timers to 30 minutes.
  • Check your pasta. Still on the boil? some strands still touch? Leave it be. Just make sure to check on it from time to time.
  • Next, prep your saute ingredients.
  • Crush your garlic well, preferably with a mortar and pestle. If you'd rather use the broad end of your kitchen knife and the cutting board, feel free to do so, but be careful of the knife edge. Next, dice your onions to even, squared shapes. To make this easier and quicker, Here's a technique I learned from my mother.
  • after peeling the onion, cut off whatever excess stems or roots it may have. Halve it vertically, from top to bottom.
  • Take one half of that, and lay it on the chopping board flat side face down, still on the vertical.
  • Begin slicing the onion into segments -- slice it into strips from top to bottom, but not all the way through. If you can, angle your slices so they all point to the center of the onion half.
  • Now, carefully turn the onion on its side so the slices/segments now lie on a horizontal angle. With a firm and crisp movement, begin slicing vertically and evenly to cross-hatch against the onion segments.
  • Congratulations, you've just used some basic Science and Geometry in the kitchen. Now work on the other half. Done.

Now, that wasn't too hard, was it? :)

  • Let's say 15 or so minutes have passed since you began chopping up the saute mix. How are the meatballs faring?

  • Ooh, look at all the meaty balls sizzling in their own juices. All the better, since the oats will help soak up the flavor. The olive oil you just used will help the flavor along too. If you just open the oven door just a wee bit, it wouldn't hurt to get a whiff of them, right? Patience, grasshopper. the balls will be done soon.
  • Also, notice how the size of the cooking balls have changed, compared to the pre-cooked ones. I'd say they reduced by a quarter or so. That's why I suggested to form the balls as generously as possible to retain that great, big, meatball-y goodness.

  • (Oh, by the way, how's your pasta? Al dente? Time to take it off the fire and drain the hot water from the noodles. Try not to scald yourself in the process. It can get rather tricky with a big, unwieldy container, but easy does it.)
  • Let's say the timer dinged, 30 minutes have passed. If the meatballs are still on the medium rare side, give it ten minutes more. The goal is to get the balls nicely browned. Once they are, turn off your oven, and take your tin out with oven mitts. Enjoy the brownness. Let cool on stone or a wooden chopping board.

Do not touch the hot steel. Nor the hot meat.

  • Excellent. We move on to cooking the sauce. Take out your trusty frying pan, and set it atop a low flame. Let it heat up a little, then pour on the three tablespoons olive oil. You may want to add a tablespoon more, but not too much.

Sautee and pasta

  • First, the crushed garlic goes in. Let it sizzle nicely, enjoy the scent wafting up. Just before the garlic browns, add in the onion. Saute, saute, keep sauteing until the onions turn a dainty translucent color and the smell tells you you're doing a good job so far. :)
  • Now, cut your two tomato sauce packets open, and pour them in. Mix well with the saute, and bring to a simmer. If you want to give your spaghetti sauce a little zing, now would be a good time to add in your hot sauce.

Mmmm. almost done.

  • With all three elements done -- pasta, sauce, and meatballs --, we shall now assemble the meal.
  • First, pasta goes on to your dish (or bowl, as I did). Then, top with sauce. then, as a grand finale, the meatballs.

Does it look good? :)

And thus, ladies and gents, concludes my own basic recipe for Spaghetti with Oat-Meatballs. If I had a chance to make it better, I'd make the meatballs bigger, and maybe add a bit more herbs to them. Now, that's where you, my lovely readers, come in. :) If you do decide to use this recipe and experiment with it, do drop me a note to let me know how it went. I do appreciate seeing enterprising minds take recipes further for the better. Makes the world a nicer place. :)

Thank you! Hope you enjoyed this post. ^_^


Care to leave a comment? I'd love to hear what's on your mind. :)