The Herbed chicken meatballs with spaghetti dish would definitely impress my parents. My mother would love the simple yet flavourful tomato and wine pasta sauce, while my father would dig right into the meatballs and likely not say a word until after his second helping. (Correction: it would likely be three words, “What’s for dessert?”) And our friends who joined us for dinner not only loved it, but also noted that I did not set off the smoke detector this time. Yes, they’ve been here before. You may recall my friend putting out the small fire in my oven while I retrieved the fire extinguisher. That was the Shared steak with shiitake mushroom sauce recipe. But the meal that day still turned out well enough for them to accept another dinner invitation from me.
We have an unspoken and unofficial monthly dinner date with these friends. Their four-year-old and our two-year-old play together while we get to partake in grownup conversation. Not that we – my husband and I – don’t get our own opportunities to speak. It’s just that when we do these days it’s usually about baby names we’ve yet to choose, how quickly the next six weeks are going to pass, and how much more preparation we need to complete before the new baby (and then inevitably a slew of Manitoban relatives) arrives.
I love how this recipe outlined how to do more than one thing at once. Mind you, I didn’t really follow those suggestions, but I’ll bet if you did follow the recipe verbatim then you would, in fact, be able to make it in just 40 minutes. You see, I had tried to prepare the meat ahead of time so that I would have less to do when the guests arrived. I did Steps 1 and 2 in the afternoon and was all set to make the meatballs ahead when I chickened out (pardon the pun). Reading the recipe more closely I realized that you need to brown the chicken meatballs first, set them aside while you cook the tomato, garlic and wine sauce then return them to the pan to continue cooking them. So, in the best interests of safe food handling and for the gastro-intestinal comfort of all my dinner guests, I thought I would best stick with the method outlined in the cookbook. I then set the bowl of herbed ground chicken meat in the refrigerator until I was ready to start making the meatballs. So I turned my attention to making croutons and preparing the dressing for the Classic Caesar salad which, by the way, I recommend highly to complement this pasta dish. Particularly if you are a garlic aficionado like me.
I chose rotini pasta because I thought the 4-year-old and 2-year-old would find it more aesthetically pleasing and less challenging on their manual dexterity/cutlery handling skills than spaghetti. Our son can use a spoon and sometimes a fork but I wasn’t prepared to spend the evening trying to teach him how to twirl his spaghetti on a fork with a spoon. Quite frankly, I’m still trying to teach his father to do that. Rotini worked out quite fine, thank you.
We added the chopped fresh mint to our plates and were all surprised at what a welcome addition it was: refreshing and summer-like. Yes, this meal was another hit. And, because I doubled the recipe, we even have leftovers — yippee!