Playing How To Make Spaghetti and Meatballs By Elisabeth Hasselbeck

Spaghetti and meatballs get a gluten-free makeover in this comfort food recipe from Elisabeth Hasselbeck's mom.

"I often use a slow-cooker to make this sauce," Elisabeth says. "I brown the sausage and onion in a large skillet first, and am always sure to scrape up all the brown bits from the pan (using a little water to help the process) when adding it all to the cooker."

Make Ahead: The meatballs can be refrigerated or frozen until you are ready to make the sauce. The meatballs will keep in the refrigerator for up to 5 days and in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Adapted from Deliciously G-Free by Elisabeth Hasselbeck. Copyright © 2012 by Elisabeth Hasselbeck. Used with permission by Ballantine Books. All rights reserved.

Ingredients
For the meatballs:
  • ½ cup gluten-free hominy grits, coarse cornmeal, or crumbs from 2 slices gluten-free bread
  • 1 ½ pounds ground chuck
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 tablespoons grated Romano or Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon light olive oil or canola oil, plus more if needed
For the sauce and pasta:
  • 1 pound gluten-free sweet or hot Italian sausage
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion, minced in a food processor
  • Three 28-ounce cans crushed tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 or 4 fresh basil leaves
  • 2 pounds dried gluten-free spaghetti
Yield
Serves: 10
Preparation

Prepare the meatballs: In a small bowl, combine 1 ½ tablespoons water with the grits, cornmeal, or breadcrumbs. Mix to moisten; the grits/cornmeal/crumbs should be damp but not wet.

Place the ground chuck in a large bowl. Add the egg, garlic, parsley, grated Romano or Parmesan, salt and black pepper, and mix with a wooden spoon. Add the moistened grits/cornmeal/crumbs and mix, first with the spoon and then with your hands, just until the ingredients are combined. Shape the meat mixture into meatballs about the size of golf balls.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat, and add the olive or canola oil. Working in batches so as not to crowd the skillet, and adding more oil as needed, cook the meatballs until they are browned, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer the meatballs to a plate.

Prepare the sauce: Cut the sausage into 2-inch pieces. Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven or other large, heavy pot, and brown the sausage on all sides in the oil. Add the minced onion and cook it with the sausage until the onion is soft and light brown, 4 to 5 minutes.

Add 1 can crushed tomatoes to the pot. Fill the can about one-quarter full with water, swish it around to rinse out the can, and pour the water into the pot. Stir, scraping up the brown bits from the bottom of the pot. Add the remaining 2 cans of tomatoes, rinsing each can with ¼ can of water as before and adding the water to the pot. Add the sugar, salt, black pepper and basil leaves and stir to mix. Add the meatballs and stir.

Bring the sauce to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, then lower the heat to a slow simmer. Simmer the sauce for 30 minutes, or longer if desired. (I like to simmer the sauce until I see that the oil has risen to the top.) Stir occasionally to prevent sticking.

When you are ready to serve, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the spaghetti and cook according to package directions. Drain, and serve topped with the pasta sauce.