Saturday, February 12, 2011

Spicy Pasta Sauce and Tempeh Meatballs

A while back I went over to my friend Holly's place to make some pretty fancy spaghetti and meatballs.  Holly actually made spaghetti squash, as well as a spicy tomato sauce.  I improvised some gluten-free tempeh meatballs (see below), which ended up better than I'd hoped.  All so good!  I recently remade the sauce and the meatballs, so as to have photos to share with you.  The meatball recipe follows the sauce recipe.

It seems as though the magic of the pasta sauce was in the two ingredients I almost never use: red wine and marjoram.  In making the recipe this time, I roasted a pepper and threw it in as well.  I also used a different combination of tomatoes, because I did have fresh ones and I didn't have enough canned ones.  I think as long as the ratio of water to tomatoeyness stays the same, you can be pretty flexible.  This has messed me up in the past, however, when I made Robin Robertson's Chickpea and Green Bean Tagine with crushed tomatoes instead of diced and it got too syrupy.  Finally, I used 2-3 TB fresh basil instead of 3/4 tsp dried, adding it in later in the process.  Holly had decreased the pepper and increased the garlic, and I kept those changes, too.

Spicy Pasta Sauce
(adapted from epicurious)

3 TB olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
6+ garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp dried oregano
3/4 tsp dried basil (I used 2-3 TB fresh minced basil instead, and added it later on)
3/4 tsp dried marjoram
1/2 tsp dried crushed red pepper
2 28-oz cans Italian-style tomatoes + 1 c canned crushed tomatoes with added purée
*instead of the above, I used 28 oz canned diced tomatoes + 2.5 c fresh roma tomatoes, diced + 1/4 c tomato paste + some water*
1 flame-roasted bell pepper, diced (and most burnt parts removed)
1/2 c dry red wine

Heat oil in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, oregano, basil, marjoram and crushed red pepper. Cover and cook until onion is translucent, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Add remaining ingredients; simmer gently, uncovered, until sauce thickens and measures 8 cups total, breaking up tomatoes with spoon and stirring occasionally, about 1 hour 15 minutes. Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper.


Well, hell if I know what a meatball tastes like, but these were great, in terms of both texture and taste.  And hey! they're gluten free.

I started with this recipe from sparkpeople, but I halved it, and then, going off this recipe from wheatlessandmeatless, I added oregano, onion, parsley, and "egg."  After my recent adventure with raw onions in falafel, I decided to sautee the onion first, and finally, we opted for pan-frying instead of baking.  I thought the balsamic vinegar might be weird, but I guess it does double duty of adding sweetness and acidity; it also mellowed out after the balls were cooked.

Tempeh Meatballs

8 oz tempeh
1/2 of an onion, finely chopped and sauteed in olive oil
1 TB + 2 TB olive oil, divided
1/4 c chickpea flour
scant 1/4 c balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp red chili flakes
3/8 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 TB oregano
2 TB fresh parsley, chopped (omitted the second time)
1-2 “eggs” (2 TB ground flax + 6 TB water)

1. Cut the tempeh into small cubes and steam for 15 minutes.  Then set aside to cool.
2. Saute the onions in 1 TB olive oil until fragrant and lightly browned.
3. In a food processor, blend together everything, including the tempeh and the onions.  Add more liquid or chickpea flour as needed.  Then let the mixture sit for 5+ min.
4. Form the mixture into smallish balls and pan-fry in hot oil for a few minutes on each side.  Serve atop pasta and sauce.  Serves 3-4.

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