Midnight Craving: Pasta and Meatballs

26 Oct
Pasta and meatballs

Tastes even better at 1:30 in the morning

Working 2nd shift has nudged my already late-skewed schedule even deeper into the night.  My daily meal and internal hunger schedules have so far struggled to sync up.  This means sometimes I find myself eating dinner on the other side of midnight.  As cravings go, the midnight ones seem to hit pretty hard and when I got the urge for pasta and meatballs the other night, well…that’s what I had to have.  Luckily, meatballs and marinara sauce are two things I can whip up without too much thought from the ingredients I tend to have around the kitchen.

Dish: Rigatoni and Meatballs

Ingredient Rollcall:


  • 1 lb ground beef (I usually use a mixture of ground beef/pork/italian sausage, but just had beef this time.  Works just fine.)
  • ~1-1.5 cups of brioche bread, diced, and soaked in enough milk to moisten (leftovers from work.  ~.5 cup of Italian breadcrumbs is what I usually use, but the brioche seemed like a nice upgrade)
  • 1 cup of minced vegetables, salted and sauteed in olive oil (any combination of onions, celery, bell pepper, mushrooms and garlic will do)
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/3  cup parmesan cheese, grated
  • splash of balsamic vinegar
  • Dash of basil, oregano, thyme, parsley
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • bowl of Italian breadcrumbs for coating
  • olive oil or bacon drippings (my personal favorite) for cooking meatballs

Marinara Sauce

  • 1 large can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 small onion minced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • healthy drizzle of olive oil
  • Dash of oregano, basil, thyme, parsley
  • splash of balsamic vinegar
  • splash of red wine
  • salt and pepper to taste

How I do it:


  1. Begin sauce by sauteing onion and garlic in olive oil with dash of salt.  When translucent, add tomatoes, olive oil, balsamic, wine and herbs and simmer while meatballs are assembled and cooked.  Depending on your preference, you an leave the sauce chunky or blend to a smoother consistency.  I like to pulse a few times with a stick blender to achieve a mixed texture.
  2. Begin meatballs by sauteing minced vegetables for 4-5 minutes until softened.
  3. Dice brioche and soak in milk until somewhat mushy.
  4. Combine ground beef, vegetables, brioche, eggs, cheese, balsamic, herbs, salt and pepper until well-mixed.  Use your hands, Sally.
  5. Using a rounded 1 tbsp measuring spoon, portion out, roll, and coat meatballs in breadcrumbs, set aside.  I ended up making exactly 50.  Pretty impressive, huh?

Meatballs a-simmering

  1. To cook meatballs, heat oil or other fat in large saute pan over medium heat.  I used a nice, big electric skillet which heats nice and evenly.  I was able to cook 20 or so at a time, allowing 4-5 minutes on each side or until they achieve a nice golden brown crust.
  2. Depending on the pasta you choose, start the pasta while the meatballs are cooking so they are done around the same time.  This slipped my mind, so I had enough time to throw a few meatballs in the sauce to simmer for a few minutes and trade flavors while the pasta was finishing.

Remember these two recipes because I will return to them often.  They are extremely versatile and lend themselves to the endless tinkering that you all know I love.  They are also hardy enough to keep in the fridge for a few days or freezer for much longer.

One Response to “Midnight Craving: Pasta and Meatballs”


  1. Leftovers Reborn: Swedish Meatballs « 43north/89west - October 26, 2009

    […] do you do when a late night craving netted you 50 meatballs a couple nights back?  After as couple meals of meatballs and marinara, I needed a new application […]

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