Today would have been my maternal grandmother's 103rd birthday. Nana, as we all called her, was your typical Italian-American grandmother, full of love and generosity and one great cook. To many in my extended family, nana's dishes remain legendary, from simple and light dishes like whiting with garlic, olive oil and lemon to homemade chicken noodle soup for Thanksgiving to more traditional Italian fare such as...what else? Pasta! Her sauce, or 'gravy' as we always called it, was always impeccable, and served up nearly every single Sunday. Oh, and then there was the lasagna. We always looked forward all year to nana's traditional lasagna on Christmas Day, the one with the tiny meatballs swimming in the cheesy mixture. Delish!
Oh, and those meatballs...did I mention them? Here's something I wrote for Yahoo awhile back...
Traditional Italian Meatball Recipe
Meatballs have always been a staple in my Italian-American family. I grew up loving my nana’s all-time tastiest meatballs and it’s her recipe that I use when I make my own. People always love my meatballs, and that's because I learned from the best. In the years since my nana passed, I've changed up the recipe just a teeny bit, and they're still just as good...
You’re gonna love em’!
1 lb. ground beef
a handful of breadcrumbs
a handful of grated parmesan or Romano cheese
½ small chopped onion
1 slice of any type of bread, pre-soaked in water
a dash of Allspice
a dash of Worcestershire sauce
Salt, pepper, parsley and garlic powder, to taste
1 - Place all of the ingredients in a mixing bowl and combine thoroughly
2 - Form meatballs by hand in any size you wish and either fry them (to me the taste is better!) or place in a baking pan in a preheated 350-degree oven for 30 minutes
That's it! I often serve this dish with pasta and tomato sauce, of course, but not always. Try these meatballs and pasta with out of the ordinary sauces like brown gravy or pesto, alla vodka, au jus, teriyaki and soy, or just plain butter sauce. The possibilities are literally endless! They also make a great hors d’ouevre, served as tiny, bite sized meatballs on a fancy toothpick with either a hollandaise or a béarnaise sauce for dipping. Give them a try at your next cocktail party and wow your guests.