Among the food safety recalls this week was Lean Cuisine Simple Favorites Spaghetti with Meatballs. According to Reuters:
"The U.S. unit of Nestle on Monday recalled some Lean Cuisine packaged meals after people found red plastic pieces inside meatballs.
Nestle said it was recalling Lean Cuisine Simple Favorites Spaghetti with Meatballs packages produced in a one-hour period last October.
The packages have a product code of 13800-10390 and a product code 0298595519 P.
Nestle did not say how many people found plastic in their food but said there were no injuries reported.
The company also said that due to the product's popularity, it believed little was left at retail. It asked anyone who had the product to call (866) 606-8264."
While I'm of course horrified at the prospect of people swallowing red plastic with the ground pork and beef. The plastic isn't necessarily the scariest ingredients in the mix. This is the ingredient list from Lean Cuisine's website:
While I've seen worse, I certainly wouldn't wouldn't be adding these ingredients into my meatball recipe. More egregious than the chemical stabilizers and preservatives, are the palm oil and the quality of pork and beef used. You can imagine that to get to Lean Cuisine's price point, Nestle is not using sustainably sourced palm oil or antibiotic and hormone free meat.
Back to my meatball recipe, while I cannot claim that this is diet food, it doesn't include junk. Instead, I start out with top notch meat from Cedar Valley Sustainable Farm and add in locally sourced ingredients and serve on top of whole wheat spaghetti for my LITTLE LOCAVORES kid or polenta for my carb-fearing husband.
You can watch me (and Little Locathor) make the recipe at Kenmore Live's Healthy Kids Sunday(and screw it up a little bit). See, I'd grabbed a bottle of what I thought was Tomato Mountain Mountain Roasted Tomato Puree, but was in fact Tomato Juice. Fortunately, the samples for the audience were prepared earlier in my commercial kitchen with the proper ingredients so all was well.
Other videos from the day can be found on Purple Asparagus' home page.
Spaghetti and Meatballs Makes about 45 medium sized meatballs
Meatballs 1-1/2 cup 2 % milk 1 cup fine fresh bread crumbs 1 large egg 2 tablespoons sour cream 14 ounces bulk pork sausage 14 ounces ground beef 1 pound ground pork 1 large onion, finely chopped 1 head garlic, roasted and cloves mashed 1/4 cup finely chopped Italian parsley 1/4 teaspoon dried basil 1 teaspoon dried oregano 1/4 teaspoon Hungarian paprika 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg 2-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Tomato Sauce 1 1/2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil 6 medium size garlic cloves 1/2 cup red wine 1 cup chicken or beef stock 2 28 ounce cans tomato puree 1 teaspoon dried oregano 1 sprig winter savory 1 bay leaf 2 teaspoons kosher salt 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper 1 pinch granulated sugar, optional 6 tablespoons heavy cream 1/2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
Soak the breadcrumbs in the milk for 10 minutes in a large bowl. Whisk together the egg and sour cream in a small bowl. Add the remaining ingredients, including the whisked egg, into the bowl with the breadcrumbs. Mix together thoroughly, but gently, with your hands.
Before you begin browning the meatballs, start making the tomato sauce. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook just until fragrant, less than a minute. Pour in wine and let it reduce by half. Add stock, tomatoes, oregano, savory sprig, bay leaf, salt, and pepper. Bring the pot to a simmer and let it cook for 10 minutes. Taste the sauce and if it seems particularly acidic, add sugar. Cook for another 10 to 20 minutes or until the sauce has thickened. When the sauce is at the proper consistency, add the cream and cook for about 5 minutes. Add vinegar and cook for two minutes longer. Remove from the heat until the meatballs are all browned.
While the tomato sauce is cooking, scoop 1/4-cup size balls onto a parchment or silpat-lined rimmed baking sheet. Roll them into meatballs. Heat the oil in a non-stick sauté pan set over medium heat. Add the meatballs in batches, making sure not to overcrowd the pan. Cook until just browned on one side and flip. They will not be cooked all the way at this point. Remove to another rimmed baking sheet or casserole dish.
Dump in the browned meatballs and any juices that have accumulated in the pan. Simmer the sauce for 10 minutes to cook the meatballs.
Serve in a chafing dish, on spaghetti, or on top of Italian bread, sprinkled with parsley.
The meatballs freeze well, so I make a huge batch and add to sauces for a quick and easy dinner. No need for frozen entrees!