Basta pasta, SPAGHETTI NA!
“Pasta is cheap, versatile, and convenient…you can create lots of different dishes with it. It tastes good and it’s filling,” says Jim Winship in an article by Caroline McClatchey of BBC News Magazine. No wonder pasta has topped a global survey of the world’s favourite foods, citing European countries as well as Guatemala, Brazil, South Africa and the Philippines. This is probably why most fast food restaurants (including McDonald’s!) in the Philippines offer spaghetti in their main menu with kids usually preferring spaghetti over hamburger.
In Canada, children ranked spaghetti as their 4th favourite food among 32 other grain foods. Other favourites include sandwiches, toast and oatmeal–yup, oatmeal!–which earned 1st, 2nd and 3rd place respectively. Similarly, Brown (on Tanner-Blasiar, 2009) also ranked spaghetti as 4th adding that spaghetti can be healthy for our kids, as long as the sauce is vegetable based, veggies are added and ground beef is lean and drained of fat.
But because of its versatility, spaghetti has some variants, even among us Pinoys. When I attended a fiesta in Southern Philippines, the spaghetti that was served had vegetables, tomato ketchup and Vienna sausage or hotdog in it with some using it as a sandwich spread on pan de sal (salted bread)! Likewise, the spaghetti sauce that my sister cooked had pickles, carrots, and liver sauce, among others. But the simplest yet delicious spaghetti sauce that I tasted was from a hole-in-a-wall restaurant in Rome, Italy, where the tomato sauce was only seasoned with salt, pepper and basil leaves.
My kids, however, have acquired a taste that’s both a blend of East and West. Their preference for pasta sauce is basic and easy to prepare: canned tomato pasta sauce, onions, garlic, herbs, pepper and sugar (my Pinoy children’s palate being used to a hint of sweetness in the sauce). Then I add meatballs and bacon to the sauce to make it more nutritious and tasty. The recipe is such a hit that I ran out of cooked pasta and had to cook some more! Enjoy!
SPAGHETTI WITH MEATBALLS
1 can of spaghetti sauce
1 onion, sliced
6 cloves of garlic, smashed and chopped
4-5 strips of bacon, chopped
15 pcs of meatballs
1 pack of spaghetti noodles
1 tbsp. olive oil
½ tsp. basil leaves
½ tsp. oregano
¾ cup water
Pepper to taste
2. Add garlic and onion and continue sautéing until both turn slightly brown.
3. Add tomato sauce and water to make the sauce’s consistency thinner. Add herbs (basil and oregano) and sugar then adjust heat to low.
4. Add the meatballs and let the sauce simmer for about 15-20 minutes.
5. Meanwhile, cook spaghetti noodles in a pot of water according to the package directions. Spaghettini, noodles that are thinner than regular spaghetti, cook faster (7 minutes or less). My wife taught me that before cooking the noodles approximate the serving by putting them on a serving plate.
6. Check if pasta is al dente. To do this, get one noodle and take a bite. The center of the noodle should have a small white area (uncooked part) and the pasta is firm to the bite.
7. Drain water and add olive oil. Toss the noodles then put on the serving plate.
8. Pour spaghetti sauce on the noodles. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and serve with toasted bread with butter. Yum!