*Meatball & Mozzarella Stromboli * Italian Wedding Soup *Stuffed Red Bell Peppers *The robins have been darting around the lawn for a few weeks and the glacier over the perennial bed had to be shoveled on to the lawn… the chunks of snow finally melted. With days of bright blue skies and the thermostat hitting the sixties and seventies, remaining indoors to crank up two ovens and cook batches of meatballs is the first test of my commitment to the blog. I have managed some time outside for early spring cleanup, pulled the tarp off my potting bench and set up for the business of gardening, a pursuit second only to cooking. On to the meatballs…… At about thirteen years old, marinara sauce and meatballs were one of my first attempts at replicating my mom’s classic recipes. It seemed as if I had watched her make it hundreds of times, but recall my solo flight during which I harassed her at work every five minutes. As with many mothers, mine did not cook from recipes, leaving me with no option but to practice making the sauce and meatballs until they were acceptable and my two younger siblings finally agreed to eat them. My marinara sauce and meatballs never will rival my mothers’, but they are tasty and finally accompanied by a recipe. Recipe…
Meatball & Mozzarella Stromboli
My mother-in-law was my inspiration for attempting these savory loaves of bread stuffed with meats, cheeses, spinach and an endless combination of ingredients. She could make them with her eyes closed and they were perfectly shaped and golden brown every time. It has taken me quite a few years to make a stromboli that did not look like it was growing a head on one end or exploding in some area of the dough. I thought that if some ingredients were good, more would be better, so I constantly over-stuffed the stromboli. I took care to have something decent looking for the photograph, although certainly not as beautiful as many I have seen. However, once sliced most of the imperfections disappear and only the memory of the first scrumptious bite remains.
Italian Wedding Soup
The wedding associated with this soup, minestra maritata (married soup), is referencing the marriage of meat and vegetables in a soup. It is a soup with a broad range of recipes from a simple broth, meatballs and green leaf to a hearty combination of many meats and vegetables in one soup. Some consider the soup a tradition at weddings and a soup for December around Christmastime. It is one of my favorite soups that I’ll make for any occasion and at any time of the year.
Stuffed Red Bell Peppers
If you whip up the marinara sauce and the meatball recipes, these peppers are a cinch to make. My preference is for red bell peppers because they are sweeter than the green, but any color bell pepper is fine. These peppers are another great make ahead dish that remains delicious when reheated. The peppers are fresh tasting when I serve them as leftovers two or three days later. Reheating in a microwave works for this option.