uncork a bottle of respectable red table wine. Pour a half a cup into a wine glass with a generous bowl, swirl. Enjoying your wine, read this recipe entirely:
slice two yellow onions and one red bell pepper. Smash, peel, and mince five cloves of garlic. Setting aside the rest for your sauce, two of the cloves and a handful of the onion are for your faux meat balls.
mince this onion finely. In a mortar with a pestle, crush two teaspoons of fennel seeds with 2 teaspoons of coarse sea salt. In a big bowl, add these spices and a teaspoon of black pepper to the onions and garlic. Add a handful of quick cooking oatmeal and one egg. These are made with egg in a nod toward my grandfather’s original recipe, but you can omit the egg and the oatmeal and have tasty balls (note: the oatmeal or bread or cracker crumbs, is a good extender to make more balls for cheaper). Let this all rest together while you get on with the sauce. Stick it in the fridge if you are neurotic about leaving out egg at room temperature.
in a hot pot—a large stock pot with a heavy bottom, heated over a medium flame—toast a proportion to taste of hot and sweet paprika and red pepper flakes. I used about two teaspoons of sweet paprika and one teaspoon of hot paprika and red pepper flakes. Pour olive oil into the pot, about three tablespoons, bring to hot and pour the red pepper and onion and garlic into the pot. Cover and cook over medium-high for five minutes: in a series of 3 x 5, every five minutes for a cycle of three times cook and stir and cover the spicy pepper mix. Add sea salt and black pepper.
as this base cooks down, rub clean a pound of crimini mushrooms, ranging from a quarter in diameter to fungi the size of an egg. De-stem them, and slice the heads into threes, making fat slices. Add them to the pot, and do another round of 3 x 5 cooking and stirring.
stir in three tablespoons of tomato paste. Pour in two large cans (28 ounces each) of crushed tomatoes. By all means if you come by this recipe in the heart of tomato season then boil & peel and crush a whole pile of fruit, but in early spring in Brooklyn, the cans are fine and preferable. Add a smaller can of diced tomatoes. Bring to a slow, popping simmer and cook for an hour or longer.
about half an hour before you want to eat, put a big pot of water onto boil.
add a tube of ground beef style soy “meat” to the big bowl of eggy, spicy slop, and mix it together well with your hands. Roll tablespoons of mixture into balls.
heat a heavy skillet and when it is hot, add a few tablespoons of olive oil. Fry the balls until brown on all sides.
pour a few generous slugs of wine into your sauce and stir. Add your fried meet balls. Bring the sauce back to a simmer.
add a box of noodles to the boiling water: spaghetti is Italian-American classic; fettuccini is seductive; and penne, somehow, feels domestic and family-like. Cook until al dente and drain. Pile noodles on a plate or in a bowl as appropriate, top with sauce. Somewhere in this cooking, maybe put together a nice salad. Now sit down with you, and whomever you dine with if you are dining in company or family, and polish off the wine.
as it simmers, you can also read this blog:
and maybe, watch a little more labyrinth: