There is one thing I cannot make. That is my grandma’s macaroni. Every extended family member of mine and any close family friends know exactly what dish I am referring to. It’s the simply made elbow macaroni and red sauce with a thick layer of finely grated Parmesan cheese. She made it for every family reunion, and as a side dish to almost any meal. I am not sure why I can’t get it right as I have probably consumed this one dish more than any other dish from any relative or even my own kitchen ever.
I won’t give up. I will keep playing with ratios and ingredients until I get it right. But in the meantime, I sure do love all the experiments in trying to make her macaroni, as it was plainly called. However, this attempt wasn’t a full-hearted attempt. I added some veggies to my sauce that I know were not in hers. I needed to sneak them in because my 4-year old is going through an incredibly picky phase as of late.Since I was making macaroni, I decided why not a meatball. Who doesn’t love a meatball? They are a personal favorite and they pair perfectly with the macaroni. While this is not my grandma’s macaroni, I definitely channeled her with this one.
Macaroni and Mini Meatballs
- 1 lb . lean ground beef
- 1/3 cup milk
- 1 egg
- 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese; finely grated
- 2 tbsp . onion; grated (about 1/4 an onion)
- 1 tsp . dried basil
- 1 tsp . dried parsley
- 1 tbsp . breadcrumbs
- 1 rib celery; finely diced
- 1 cup onion; finely diced
- 1/2 cup carrot; finely diced
- 2 cups tomato sauce (2-8 oz. cans)
- 1-6 oz . can tomato paste
- 11/2-2 cups water (depending on desired thickness of the sauce)
- 1/2 tsp . dried oregano
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 bay leaves
- Salt/pepper to taste
- Extra Virgin olive oil
- 1/2 lb . dried elbow macaroni
Mix all the ingredients for the meatballs together; making sure it is well mixed. Set aside.
In a large pot, heat the oil over medium high heat.
Once the pan/oil is hot, add the celery, onions, carrots, and garlic.
Sauté for 2 minutes or until the veggies begin to soften.
Add the oregano, salt, pepper, and bay leaves and allow them to bloom, about 1 minute.
Add the tomato sauce, stir well, and then add the tomato paste.
Stir until the paste has been fully incorporated into the sauce.
Slowly add the water until the desired consistency has been reached.
Bring the sauce to a high simmer, taste, and add any salt or pepper.
Once the sauce has come to a low boil, using a kitchen tablespoon, form small meatballs and gently drop them into the sauce.
Reduce the heat to medium.
Cover and allow the meatballs to remain in the sauce undisturbed for 15 minutes.
After 15 minutes, gently stir the sauce, replace the cover and continue to cook, another 10 minutes or until the meatballs are cooked through.
Once the meatballs have gone into the sauce, cook the pasta according to package directions.
Once cooked, strain, and return to the pot.
Add several ladles-full of sauce (no meatballs) to the pasta.
Stir until all the pasta is lightly coated in the sauce.
Serve the pasta with meatballs and more sauce.
Generously sprinkle Parmesan cheese over it all.