Its no secret that we're in the midst of an extraordinarily hot summer. Record highs have been set all over the country and here in the city, we've been living in a blast furnace; each day more hot and humid than the next. I'd say that its typical for July, except that we're on pace to have the hottest July on record. Ole.
My birthday fell smack in the middle of this unusually hot month and when dinner time rolled around, I wanted what I always want for my birthday meal ... despite the heat. I wanted meatballs.
Its long been a joke in my family that my birthday tends to be the hottest day of the year. It wasn't this year, but it was close. Regardless of the heat, I bowed to tradition; only this year, I lightened things up a bit. I chose to make chicken meatballs and I had a little help in seasoning them too.
Recently, the good folks at Ariosto seasonings reached out to me and offered me some samples of their seasoning blends. I happily accepted. Made in Milan, Italy, with Sicilian sea salt, Ariosto seasonings are one of Italy's top selling brands. They feature a delightful blend of herbs and sea salt, with no additives, MSG, or artificial ingredients. Ariosto sent me a wonderful assortment of their blends, and in this recipe I've used their: Insaporitore per Carni (seasoning for meat and chicken), Aglio e Peperoncino (a spicy blend featuring garlic and crushed red pepper flakes), and Insaporitore per Sughi al Pomodoro (seasoning for tomato sauce).
The results? Magnificent! Or, should I say, magnifico?! The sauce had a wonderfully spicy kick, due to the crushed red pepper flakes, and the meatballs were tender and perfectly seasoned. Mille grazie per tutti, Ariosto!
Spicy Tomato Sauce:
- 1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
- 1 teaspoon Ariosto Aglio e Peperoncino seasoning
- one 7g packet of Ariosto Sughi al Pomodoro seasoning
- one 28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes
- 2 teaspoons tomato paste
- one 8 oz. can of tomato sauce
- 1/4 cup good quality red wine
- 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1. Heat the oil in a large, non-reactive, sauce pan over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. Add the minced garlic and 1 tsp. of Ariosto Aglio e Peperoncino seasoning and saute, stirring, for one minute.
2. Add the rest of the ingredients to the pot, stir well to combine, and allow the mixture to just come to the boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer, while you make the meatballs. Stir once in a while, for good measure.
- 1 pound ground chicken breast
- 1 teaspoon Ariosto Insaporitore per Carni seasoning
- 2 teaspoons salt-free grilling blend (I use Mrs. Dash Steak blend)
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- some freshly ground black pepper
- dash of freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1/4 cup seasoned whole wheat bread crumbs
Pre-heat your oven to 425 degrees F.
1. In a large mixing bowl, combine all of the ingredients and mix well - with clean hands, or a fork - to blend. Mix until fully incorporated. Mixture will be slightly sticky. Form the mixture into 12 even, round, meatballs and place on a large baking sheet when formed.
2. Bake meatballs in the middle of a pre-heated 425 degree oven for 15 minutes.
3. Remove from oven and transfer the meatballs to the sauce, stirring to coat. Cover the pot and allow the meatballs to simmer gently in the sauce - on very low heat - for at least 30 minutes and up to an hour, so the flavors will meld. Stir once in a while to ensure they don't stick to the bottom of the pan. Serve over cooked pasta and garnish with some chopped fresh parsley and freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Enjoy!
As written, this recipe will serve 6.
Careful readers will note the lack of salt in both the meatballs and the sauce. Since the seasoning blends feature sea salt, I found it unnecessary to use additional salt. Do as you see fit.
Ariosto seasonings are available online and in some specialty markets across the country. I look forward to trying their potato and fish blends, as well as future experimentation with the seasoning for meat. I really enjoyed the flavor of the sauce seasoning, and found the ease of use to be a real time saver - no need to measure or dust off a long list of herbs and spices ... its all right there in that happy little packet.
A brief word of caution regarding the Aglio e Peperoncino blend ... its spicy! Personally, I like it that way, but go easy if you're heat averse.
Lastly, if you're unable to find Ariosto seasonings in your neck of the words, feel free to reach out to the charming and delightful Mr. Saverio Lo Presti - you may contact him via email: firstname.lastname@example.org - and he will respond immediately.