The humble spaghetti originated not in Italy as everyone surmises, but in China. The Italians credit Marco Polo, the Venetian explorer for bringing spaghetti into Italy from his travels to China. Spaghetti is made out of durum wheat. To prepare the spaghetti, make an O with your thumb and pointer finger as if you are gesturing the word, 'OK'. Place as many spaghetti strands as can fit between this O. This is what 1 serving of spaghetti looks like. You can also buy a device that measures servings of Spaghetti. These cool devices come with little holes in several sizes to measure servings of spaghetti at 1, 2, 3, 4 to 5 servings. Simply insert as many strands of spaghetti as can fit into the corresponding hole. Once measured, the fun part of cooking spaghetti begins. I remember watching a scene in Only the Lonely where John Candy is cooking Spaghetti for his girlfriend, Theresa, and inserts a whole packet of spaghetti into a small pan of boiling water, burning himself and literally ruining dinner; to which Theresa says, "I am really not that hungry."
To cook Spaghetti, bring a big pot to the boil. Add some olive oil and salt. Let the water dance until it is really hot. This is when you put in the spaghetti....not a moment sooner. Spaghetti cooks in about 15 to 20 minutes. To test if your spaghetti is done, scoop one to two strands with a fork or spaghetti spoon and taste. The spaghetti should be soft and not taste pasty. Some people like their spaghetti with a bit of texture. This is called 'al dente'. Once the pasta is cooked, remove from the heat and drain. I like to add a tablespoon of olive oil or butter...just for richness. I also sprinkle some fresh parsley on top of the spaghetti.
I've often heard it say that the proper way to prepare spaghetti is to add the pasta to the sauce and not the sauce to the pasta. I believe this to be true. This is the way most Italians eat their spaghetti. Whether you like this idea or not, serve your spaghetti whichever way you like sprinkled with fresh parmesan cheese. This dish goes really well with garlic bread and a good red wine.
For the Meatballs
1 lb lean minced beef
1/4 cup fresh parmesan cheese
1 onion diced
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup breadcrumbs
1 clove of garlic
2 tablespoon tomato sauce (you can also use 2 tablespoons tomato ketchup)
2 TBS vegetable oil
For the Pasta:
1 pound spaghetti
1 qt boiling water
1 TBS oil
For the tomato sauce:
1 tin tomato puree
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon each salt, oregano, garlic powder, Italian Seasonings
1 to 3 cloves of garlic
2 TBS vegetable oil
Preheat the oven to 375ºF (190ºC)
- In a frying pan sauté onions and garlic till onion is translucent. Set aside to cool slightly.
- Meanwhile in another bowl combine the minced beef, tomato sauce, parmesan cheese, breadcrumbs and seasonings. Add the onions and stir to combine. Add the egg and mix the mixture with clean hands or a wooden spoon to combine all ingredients.
- Shape meat mixture into 1 to 2 inch balls and place them in a slightly greased roasting pan.
- Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, make the spaghetti:
- In a stock pot or pasta pot bring water to a boil. Add 1 TBS vegetable oil and salt.
- When the water starts to dance it is time to add the spaghetti. Add the spaghetti to the pot and let the magic of the dancing water slide the pasta into the pot. Stir with a wooden spoon and let the pasta cook for about twenty minutes. Once the pasta is cooked drain the pasta and place in a large bowl.
- When meatballs are done remove from the oven and let cool slightly.
- Make a basic tomato sauce: In a saucepan heat oil and sauté onions and garlic until onions are translucent.
- In a large bowl, combine tomato puree, chopped tomatoes and seasonings. Add the tomato sauce to the onions in the saucepan. Stir. Add in the meatballs. Let the sauce simmer for about 10 minutes on a low hob.
- Drain pasta, place in a bowl and serve in pretty Pasta dishes. Ladle sauce and meatballs over pasta.