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Lightning FAST Spaghetti and Meatballs

Recipe: Lightning FAST Spaghetti and Meatballs


    This isn't my only spaghetti recipe. This is the FAST one. One time I had 90 minutes to make dinner for 8. Within that 90 minutes I had to go to the grocery store, buy the food, get home, unpack it, cook dinner, set the table, arrange the flowers, open the wine, pretty myself up and be ready to go. I was in charge of entrée and dessert. My friends were bringing salad and appetizer. This is how I whipped up spaghetti and meatballs for 8 in just a few minutes.

    Spaghetti made in 30 minutes or less is going to include a jar sauce. But I'll tell you what I did to doctor up the jar sauce and make it taste like I had slaved for hours.

    As for the meatballs. . . . I've made my own meatballs lots of times--times when I've had all Sunday afternoon and I wanted my whole house to smell like garlic. Then I discovered that there are now some incredible "imposters" available in your grocer's freezer section. You'd think you had a little Italian grandma hidden away somewhere. These are so good one of my best friends actually thought I had made them ahead and froze them. He asked what my secret meat combination in the meatballs was! I just smirked and showed him the bag. Read on. You won't believe how easy this is.

    Then there is the bucatini. I used a spaghetti noodle that not many outside of Italian families have experienced and you might have to hunt around for it. But if you can't get it, don't worry. Use regular spaghetti or even penne or mostaccioli. Bucatini is just fat spaghetti with a hole in it. It's got a real robust feel to it because it takes up so much room in your mouth. It makes you feel like you are eating more so, if you are doing a low-carb thing, you don't need very much and you feel satisfied.

    In case you're feeling slightly cheated by my "way too easy" spaghetti, Zola's Caesar Salad rounds out the spaghetti really well. My Caesar has different twists to it, like added walnuts and grapes. I think you'll like it and it fits into that "make it really fast" mentality.

    When you're really in a hurry to make a fun, comfort food dinner for 8, make this spaghetti, salad and some garlic bread and sit down with a glass of Chianti and enjoy!

Serves 8


    Bucatini for 8 (check the box for portions) or use regular spaghetti, penne or mostaccioli

    1 Tbl olive oil

    1 large red pepper, chopped

    1 large green pepper, chopped

    1 large white or yellow onion, chopped

    1 Tbl minced garlic

    3 large jars (about 25 or 26 oz. each) of jar spaghetti sauce. Mix these. Use all red sauces but mix the flavors. You might get one that's mushroom and peppers, one that's four cheese, one that's spicy. You get the idea. When you mix them, your sauce automatically has more ingredients in it.

    1 Tbl Italian herbs

    1 bag (38-oz.) Rosina Frozen Italian Style Meatballs (76 meatballs per bag). Make SURE you get Italian Style meatballs and not cocktail meatballs. Rosina is not the only brand you can buy. It's just my current favorite.

    1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese (parmesan/asiago/romano mix--all work), plus more on the side


    First thing, put on your large pot of water to boil for the spaghetti. That takes the longest.

    Heat your olive oil in the bottom of a large soup pot. Add your peppers and onions. Sauté until they are all softened (3 to 5 minutes). Add the garlic. Stir the garlic around and then open the jars of sauce. Pour them in. Then right from the bag (frozen), toss in your meatballs. (I know this seems weird. I used to brown them first. Believe me, you don?t need to.) Add your Italian herbs. Turn the heat on high until you get the whole thing just boiling. Stir periodically so it doesn't start to stick to the bottom. You have to keep it loose so the cold stuff on the top gets moved to the bottom. Once it's all hot, turn it down to medium and just let it "meld" for about 30 minutes. In that time, the meatballs thaw out, everything gets hot and the sauce is ready to go. You can keep it warm longer or turn it off and reheat it after your guests arrive.

    When the water is boiling, put a teaspoon of salt (optional) in the water for your spaghetti. Cook your noodles according to the instructions on the box. When they are al dente (just done and slightly chewy), drain them and turn them out onto one side of your platter. Put your sauce with the meatballs on the other side of the platter. (I use the big Thanksgiving platter. You can use two big heat-proof bowls too.) Sprinkle all with parmesan and serve steaming hot. Have your extra parmesan ready to serve. You can have your Caesar salad and garlic bread ready to serve too if you are serving those.

Serving Suggestions:

    The whole thing with this recipe is probably the presentation. There are just a few tricks you can do to make this concoction look gourmet and taste that way too. When I served this on a huge platter, I kept the spaghetti on one side and the sauce and meatballs on the other and let people serve themselves. This way they could take as many noodles as they wanted and they could count their meatballs too. For some reason, they thought this was pretty special treatment! Sprinkle the whole thing with parmesan first, and then have some extra parmesan on the side and you're set for a gourmet feast in just minutes.


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