Thursday, June 11, 2009

Meatball Bake & All Things Italian

I was surfing through some local blogs and I happened upon All Things Italian located in Bozeman. I figured it would be fun to check out their selection of goods and who would have thought I’d find some gluten free pastas? I sure didn’t. I rushed over there on a lunch break and picked up the two rice pastas and the one corn pasta they had available. I’ve read such good things about European GF pastas that I just couldn’t resist. I did consider buying their Beretta Gnocchi Di Riso which is made with rice flour but on the package it said it may contain wheat so I opted to avoid it. I wanted to make some sort of meatball lasagna type dish and I came up with this meatball bake, it was really tasty and I will be making it again. I used the Beretta Rice Fusilii for this dish and if you’re new to GF pastas always be sure to bring the water to boiling before adding the pasta, otherwise things just get too sticky. The pasta cooked a lot faster than I expected, maybe I was distracted, so it was a little more done than I had wanted. It was a tad mushy but nothing like my Tinkyada pasta would have been if I had overcooked that pasta. Trust me, I love my Tinkyada pasta and keep it stocked in the pantry I’m just really good at overcooking pasta. Overall this is a nice pasta and I want to try it next in a pasta salad.

Meatball Bake

½ -1 pound ground beef
1 egg beaten
½ c gluten free bread crumbs*
¼ c milk
1/3 c parmesan cheese
1 T oregano

Mix the egg, milk, and bread crumbs in a bowl and let sit for a couple minutes to allow the bread crumbs to absorb some liquid and soften up. Add the beef, parmesan cheese, and oregano mixing well. Roll the mixture into 1 inch balls and place on a greased cookie sheet. Bake for 12 minutes at 350F or until the meatballs are no longer pink.

1 T olive oil, I prefer garlic flavored
8 oz gluten free pasta, fusilli, spiral, penne, or elbow will work

While the meatballs are baking boil your water then add the olive oil and pasta. Cook the noodles until they are al dente the strain. If there happen to be any noodles sticking together rinse them under warm water and gently break them up with your fingers, this is more common in GF spaghetti noodles.

1 jar spaghetti sauce
1 c shredded mozzarella cheese

In a 2 quart dish spread some spaghetti sauce on the bottom then cover it with all of the noodles. Spread half of the remaining sauce over the noodles and sprinkle half of the cheese on top. Place the meatballs evenly over the cheese, then top with the remaining sauce and cheese. Cover with tin foil and bake in a 350 F oven for 35 min, remove the tin foil and bake an additional 10 minutes. This can easily be be put together the night before, you may need to adjust the time it bakes.
* I make my own bread crumbs from homemade bread that is starting to dry out and needs to be used up. Preheat your oven to 250 F and cut your bread into your desired bread crumb sizes. I like to use my pizza cutter so I can cut multiple pieces of bread at a time. Arrange the crumbs on a cookie sheet and bake for roughly 45 min, or until they are crispy. I store them sealed in my freezer so they're available anytime I need them. You can season them before using in a recipe, just mix them with with butter or olive oil and the spices you want.

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