Spaghetti and Chicken Meatballs

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While you can’t always get the exact food you are craving traveling in India (I have discovered that pad thai, pho, and udon all pretty much mean dry noodles with spicey sauce in India), you can still bet on everything being made from scratch. With cheap labor and ingredients, the idea of buying canned soup or sauce is completely foreign, which has made for a nice change as compared to eating in airports or random restaurants in the US, where food is easily served directly from a can or the freezer.

As a result of not being exposed to processed food anymore, a couple months ago I tried eating Ragu pasta sauce (you can buy it for about $4 bottle in my neighborhood market) and couldn’t stand it – realizing I had completely lost my taste for something so processed and preserved. It finally prompted me to do something that always intimidated me – make my own marinara sauce. Turns out it is not as difficult as I thought, and with a few short cuts incredibly easy. This simple marinara recipe has now been in regular rotation for months, and I don’t plan on buying another jar of Ragu anytime soon.

What you’ll need:

  • 3 pounds of tomatoes, diced
  • 2-3 medium onions, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon of oregano
  • 1/4 cup of fresh basil
  • 8 oz of whole wheat spaghetti
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • parmesan for garnish

Add oil to a heated large pot (I use my cast-iron dutch oven) over medium heat.  Add in garlic and onions and sautee until soft, about 4-5 minutes.  Add your tomatoes* and let simmer, covered for about 20 minutes on low heat, stirring occasionally.  Use an immersion blender to blend the mixture until smooth.  Add oregano, salt and pepper to taste and let simmer again covered for about 5-10 minutes.

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{Cooking spaghetti with chopsticks – I am my Mother}

Meanwhile, cook the pasta, timing it so that it will be finished when the sauce is ready.  When pasta is cooked, drain and shake over the sink and add directly into the sauce so it aborbs it while it completes its cooking process.  Add in most of the basil (leaving some aside for ganishing) and serve immediately.  Garnish with remaining basil and grated parmesan cheese.

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I also used this chicken meatball recipe (using fresh bread crumbs from Defence Colony Bakery).  The recipe is great with and without meat. Enjoy!

*When I first made this recipe I had removed the tomato skins before adding them by quickly immersing them in boiling water and then peeling off the skins.  I found this to be a little time-consuming, so I now skip this step for everyday cooking, and still find the results to be great.

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