Again, thank you everyone for the input, I really appreciate all your help. The dinner turned out fantastic and I can't wait to do it again when garden overflows with tomatoes and herbs
So I wanted to share with you all the different recipes I used for the pasta, meatballs and sauce. In the end everything tasted wonderful, I was a bit worried about the sauce over-powering the taste of the meatballs and fresh pasta but it all seemed to balance well.
The recipe for the meatballs I used are as follows:
1.5 lbs of beef/pork/veal mixture
1/2 package of frozen spinach
3/4 C of freshly grated parmagian cheese (can't spell, sorry)
1/3 C bread crumbs
1.5 T of fresh basil
1.5 T of fresh parsley
1 T garlic powder
1.5 t kosher salt
After mixing it all up I formed balls that were approx. 1.5 ounces a peice, rolled them in more breadcrumbs and put them on a baking sheet. I baked at 400 degrees for 20 mins. They were perfectly cooked but were a bit fragile (not sure if it needs more binding agents or if it was too wet with the spinach) but they tasted amazing.
For the pasta, I used the following:
3.5 C sifted flour
1 t salt
1 T water
I mixed that up, let it rest for 20 mins and then used the pasta maker attachment for the stand mixer to roll and cut. I boiled in salted water for 5 mins, came out perfect.
Now for the sauce, let me first reiterate that I had previously de-seeded, roasted and pureed 11 lbs of garden fresh tomatoes last summer and froze them. After thawing the two containers out I was left with 76 ounces of pureed tomatoes, around that I created the following recipe:
76 ounces roasted tomato puree
3 celery stalks
1 medium onion
10 cloves garlic
1/3 stick of butter
1/3 C Chianti wine (red wine)
red pepper flakes
Here's how it all went down.... I first chopped up the carrots, onion and celery into very small peices, I dropped the butter into the pot and let that melt and start to foam, I then added the veggies along with the garlic and let "sweat" until everything was nice and tender. I took 5 meatballs from above and browned them in the bottom of the pot as well. Once the meatballs were browned and the veggies were soft enough I deglazed the pot with the wine. After scraping all those good brown bits off the bottom of the pot I added in the tomatoes and fresh herbs along with some salt and red pepper flakes. I brought all that up to simmer and let it cook for about 2 hours. I then took out the stick blender and pureed up all the veggies and meatballs, I think this step was crucial in the whole process. The puree really thickened the sauce nicely while also breaking up the meat and adding the taste to the entire pot. I then added in quite a bit more basil, let that simmer for another 30 minutes and then seasoned with salt and red pepper to my liking.
Now I realize that the recipe wasn't anything special, I'm sure everyone has seen it before and I really didn't do anyhting much different than most people suggested here. I will tell you though that I think the success of the sauce can be contributed to a few things:
1. The fresh herbs were amazing. The one that really stuck out was the thyme, it really gave it a fresh taste without overdoing it. This is a powerful herb and it can ruin things so be careful with it.
2. The meatballs that were comprised of pork, veal and beef really added a nice depth to the sauce. I wasn't planning on adding them originally but I'm glad I did in the end.
3. The stick blender was key! It really thickened up the sauce and got rid of the "lumps" and made the sauce taste much more uniform. It also allowed the carrots to add sweetness to the sauce.
If there was 1 thing I'd do different it would be to take the meatballs out of the pot before I used the stick blender. The texture of the sauce with the itty bitty meat specs mixed in wasn't very pleasant (although it tasted great). The other option would have been to just add more meat, then it would have seemed to belong.
All in all, it was a perfect birthday dinner. I was amazed with everything, definately one of the best meals I've ever cooked.
Please feel free to add any questions or comments