One of my favorite things about cooking is having leftovers. I used to loathe them, actually, but I think that had more to do with the ingredients I was using (lots of pasta/cans/boxes/etc.) than the fact that there was food leftover. Nowadays, I find that using fresh vegetables, fresh meats, and good spices makes not only the meal delicious, but the leftovers as well! There may only be two humans in my house (the 4 dogs and 7 chickens eat a surprising amount of food), but I generally cook meals big enough for at least 4-6 people. That way I only heat up the house once, but make enough food for at least a couple of meals for each of us.
One recipe that I really stock up on when I make it is meatballs. And what good are meatballs without marinara sauce? So, I’ll give you both recipes here:
4 pounds grass-finished ground beef
4 pounds italian sausage (spicy or mild, whichever you prefer)
4 large eggs
3 tablespoons fennel seed
2 tablespoons dried parsley
2 tablespoons dried thyme
2 tablespoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons salt
**The meatballs will let off liquid, so be sure to use a baking sheet with a rim (also known as a jelly roll pan, but who makes jelly rolls anymore?), or a deeper pan of a similar size (like a 9×13 glass baking dish). I can fit everything on two baking sheets, but two 9×13 pans should also work.
1. Measure out all of your spices, get your baking sheets out, and preheat your oven to 350 degrees first, so that you won’t have to wash your hands multiple times while cooking.
2. Whisk the eggs in a small bowl.
3. In a very large bowl, put ALL ingredients together and mix with your hands just until the eggs and spices are evenly distributed.
4. Roll meatballs approximately 1.5″ in diameter, and place them fairly close together directly onto your baking sheet (no grease required, the meatballs won’t stick I promise). This should yield between 70 and 80 meatballs.
5. Bake at 350 degrees farenheit for 40 minutes.
6. Let the meatballs cool, and store them in airtight containers in the freezer. I usually keep one third of the batch in the refrigerator, and freeze the other two thirds in separate containers.
2 – 28oz cans of diced tomato
4 – 6oz cans of tomato paste
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 head of garlic
1/2 cup diced onion
1/4 cup fresh basil
2 tablespoons thyme (dried)
2 tablespoons oregano (dried)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
**If you are lucky and have fresh herbs growing, subbing fresh herbs for dried is a wonderful treat (I included fresh sage last time I made marinara, and it was delicious)
1. Open all the cans
2. Dice the onion, crush and chop the garlic
3. Heat the oil, then sautee the onion and garlic until they just begin to brown and carmelize (about 10 minutes on medium heat)
4. Pour in the diced tomatoes, stir up to incorporate the garlic/onions
5. Put in the tomato paste and dry spices, stir everything up really well
6. Turn down the heat and let the mixture simmer for at least 30 minutes on low, or longer if you have some time. Once you’re ready, put the marinara sauce in jars, leaving about 1/2 an inch at the top for expansion, and put your extra jars in the freezer.
Keep in mind that either recipe can be easily scaled up or down, depending on how many people you’re feeding or how much room you have in your freezer.
When you pull your meatballs and marinara out of the freezer, all you have to do is make a vegetable! I’m particularily fond of bacon roasted brussel sprouts, spaghetti squash, and roasted broccoli (courtesy of Emily over at joyful abode). See, with a little planning ahead, a delicious made from scratch dinner can be had in 20 minutes. Yum!