Roasted Tomato, Mint & Feta Pasta with Greek Meatballs

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Home again, home again, jiggety-jig!

I have finally arrived--permanently--in the great state of Wisconsin once again.  I am unbelievably happy to be home.  My actual home has my husband and cats and all of my stuff, and our apartment is a nice one.  My new/old home state has: Bacon Mac & Cheese Pizza, all the New Glarus beer I can handle (drinking a brand spankin' new Hometown Blonde as I type), a cheap farmer's market almost on top of Lake Michigan, and Peregrine Falcons that hang out in our general vicinity.  My WI love runs deep and true.

Unlike my love for central IL which is ratty and sparse.  Check out the scary temporary housing I was in for the last ~3 weeks:


It's no wonder I didn't feel like cooking!  Yuck.

But, I *did* pass the halfway mark in my Library & Information Science program while finishing up my IL tenure.  This was the happiest I looked down there in the last ~3 weeks:


Anyway, I am deeee-lighted to be home.  And now I have some time (for now, anyway) to cook stuff! And she's off to the foodie/bloggie races!



Roasted Tomato, Mint & Feta Pasta with Greek Meatballs (sauce recipe from Inspired Taste, meatballs from moi)
Sauce:
-6 medium-sized tomatoes, quartered
-~1 tablespoon olive oil
-3 large, unpeeled garlic cloves
-Salt & Pepper to taste (both on tomatoes and in sauce)
-1 (14.5oz) can diced tomatoes
-3/4 small red onion, diced
-1/4 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
-1/2-1 teaspoon dried oregano
-1/4 cup mint leaves, torn
-4 ounces feta, crumbled or cubed
-Pasta of your choosing to serve sauce over

Meatballs:
-~1.5 tablespoons olive oil
-1 pound lean ground beef (90/10)
-1/3 fine, plain breadcrumbs
-1 egg
-1/4 small red onion, minced
-1/4 tsp. fresh lemon zest
-1/2 tsp. kosher salt
-1/2 tsp. black pepper
-1 tsp. dried oregano
-1/4 tsp. garlic powder (or more!)
-1/4 tsp. dried mint

1. Preheat oven to 400.

2. Toss quartered tomatoes and garlic cloves with olive oil in a bowl.  Pour out onto a baking sheet (I lined mine with a silpat mat, but if you don't have one, maybe aluminum foil, just in case).  Sprinkle with salt and pepper to your liking.  Bake for 25 minutes or until kind of wrinkly.

3. While your tomatoes are roasting, combine all of the meatball ingredients in a large bowl.  Thoroughly incorporate all ingredients.  Create ~1-1.5" diameter meatballs by rolling between your hands.

4. Heat ~1.5 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  When hot, put meatballs in the skillet and brown on all sides.  These brown very quickly, so monitor closely to make sure they don't burn or overcook.  Remove from the pan, leaving the residual oil.  Add a little more oil and allow it to heat up over medium heat.

5.  By now, your tomatoes and garlic should be done.  Place the tomatoes into a food processor.  Allow the garlic cloves to cool before handling, and once they're able to be handled comfortably, peel the skins off and smush with a fork.  Put the roasted garlic into the food processor bowl, as well.  Pour the can of tomatoes into the food processor.

6. Put meatballs on the baking sheet you just used for the tomatoes.  Bake them for ~10-15 more minutes or until cooked through.

7. Add the diced red onion and red pepper flakes to the heated skillet.  Saute ~5 minutes or until softened.  When done, add to the food processor bowl and puree until semi-smooth (or whatever your desired degree of smoothness of sauce is).  When smooth, pour back into the skillet, add oregano, salt and pepper, and mint.  Let simmer, covered.

8. Make your noodles!

9.  When meatballs are cooked all the way through, add them to the sauce, cover, and let simmer until noodles are done and you're ready to get your eat on.  Stir the feta into that sauce and enjoy!

-Serves 4-6 depending on degree of hungriness

Verdict: OM NOM.  And furthermore: NOM.  The meatballs are really outstanding.  I think the sauce could use just a wee more oomph, but it's light and refreshing.

3 comments:

Kelly said...

This looks super yummy. Will have to try it soon. When you say more "oomph", what would you add?

Heather said...

You know, I'm just not sure what it needs. I will say that after it sat in the fridge overnight, the flavors melded together more and it tasted better. I'm thinking maybe I wouldn't puree *all* the red onion in the sauce, because it makes it more watery. Maybe a squeeze of lemon juice, too? That might be good.

Susan Lindquist said...

Hi Heather! I'm chuckling over this post, as a good sauce is always a bit elusive ... even the quality of the tomatoes can make all the diff! I was thinking that maybe a bulb of fennel, sliced into thin wedges and sauteed with that red onion might add some interest ... and yes, keep some of the onion and fennel whole and add it to the rest of the sauce puree. Still, this sounds pretty darn good to me.

An aside ... I have been harvesting my own tomatoes and am making your tomato confit with pasta and goat cheese recipe that I have gone to a few times since you tempted me with it ages ago ...man, what a great little bowl of goodness! Anyway, was thinking of you. Glad to hear that the grad work is humming right along!

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