30 January, 2017
A-Tisket, A-Tasket, A Pasta & Meatball Basket
You have to be pretty old to remember the children’s nursery rhyme A-Tisket, A-Tasket, or hang around old people who do. The song/nursery rhyme was first known in the US in 1879. This upbeat tune was recorded by Ella Fitzgerald in 1938.
A few fun facts from Wikipedia:
- “The music for the song was used in the opening scene of John Ford‘s 1940 film The Grapes of Wrath to help establish the contemporary time frame of the events of the film.
- A rendition of the song was also performed in the Paul Thomas Anderson movie The Master (2012).”
Hubby found this recipe on the internet and wanted me to try it. I had my doubts and old childhood memories flooded in of baked spaghetti, and they weren’t good ones.
My mother’s second husband was Irish (her first husband was Italian). The Irishman didn’t know how pasta should be cooked. He grew up in Iowa and his mother always baked it with bacon and tomato soup – in the oven. The pasta on top was usually burned and too crispy and the bacon was never cooked enough. And let’s just agree that tomato soup should never….ever….no not EVER be used in place of pasta sauce. It was awful and makes me gag just to write this down. So when someone mentions baked pasta I tremble in fear of this recipe repeating itself.
Being the good sport I am (….well, sometimes), I made these spaghetti and meatball baskets to appease my hubby. After all, he helped me clean out the laundry room today and deserved a “special request” dinner.
I am pleased to report they were not only tasty, but fun to serve. It was a hit with hubby! After making them, I think the recipe could be modified by adding ricotta cheese. Could be that I’m just a ricotta cheese fan? Maybe a little in the spaghetti basket under the meatball? Or in the meatball? Or leave out the meatball and just add ricotta cheese mixture in its place? Or you could fill the pasta basket with vegetables like green beans or eggplant. Oh that sounds good too. Any other ideas? We’ll just have to make this again and test a few options out.
And just think of making them for a kid’s birthday party, or a “small bite” dinner with friends. Okay I’ll stop now – even though my mind is racing with ideas.
- 12 ounces spaghetti
- 3 large eggs, divided
- 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella
- 3/4 cups grated Parmesan, divided, plus more for garnish
- 3 cups marinara, divided
- Cooking spray, for pan
- 1 lb. ground beef
- 1/2 c. bread crumbs
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tbsp. freshly chopped parsley, plus more for garnish
- kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Cook spaghetti until very al dente, 8 minutes (noodles will continue to cook in oven).
- Drain and rinse under cold water.
- Toss cooled spaghetti with 2 beaten eggs, shredded mozzarella, 1/2 cup grated Parmesan, and 1 cup marinara in large bowl.
- Spray a muffin tin with cooking spray and nest spaghetti inside. Using the bottom of a shot glass, firmly press down to create a well.
- Bake until set, 15 minutes.
- Let cool. (If nests puffed up while baking, press down again with shot glass.)
- In a large bowl, combine ground beef, bread crumbs, garlic, remaining egg, remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan, and parsley. Season with salt and pepper. Roll into balls.
- In a large skillet over medium heat, heat oil. Brown meatballs, 4 minutes per side, then drain fat. Pour over remaining 2 cups marinara and let simmer, 5 minutes.
- Spoon meatball onto spaghetti nest. Garnish with Parm and parsley.
- If you don't want to make meatballs, use your favorite frozen or deli variety.
- 2 eggs
- 1 1/2 to 2 cups marinara
- 1/2 cup Parmesan
- and ignore all the meatball ingredients