Sometimes all you need is just a little comfort food...

And nothing says comfort to me like pasta.  But why is it that I always forget about making pasta with meatballs?  I must make pasta with regular sauce four times a month, but meatballs about twice a year.  They are almost as simple as regular sauce, but infinitely more fun to eat.

These meatballs are extra special because my Wyoming brother-in-law hunted and killed an elk, then shared the spoils with us.  So these are elk sausage meatballs!  But don't worry, I've taken into account that you all don't have awesome elk-slaying brothers-in-law and adjusted the meat in this recipe.  And the secret ingredient in this recipe: CHEESE. bahaha!

Not the fancy asiago that the Barefoot Contessa's recipe calls for {she uses the most expensive ingredients.  Geez, her food is great, but I am not about to spend $20 on truffle butter just because she tells me to} but rather parmesan {and maybe a little monterey jack I had leftover}.

I always tear up some spinach leaves and cook them into the marinara sauce as well, you know, just to make the whole thing healthy.

Is anyone doing anything fun this weekend?  I think I'm going to talk Mr. S&S into taking me to see Silver Linings Playbook at some point, and we probably need to give the pup an outing.  He's been looking at us rather longingly lately.  Also, I purchased a big bag of blood oranges at Trader Joe's, so they'll need to be turned into something fantastic.

But you should definitely add these meatballs to your weekend agenda.  They freeze very nicely, too.

Pasta with Meatballs
Serves 3-4, inspired by the Barefoot Contessa's Spicy Turkey Meatballs

1 pound of pasta (I vastly prefer short noodles, so no spaghetti here, but follow your heart)
1 pound of ground turkey
1 pound of italian sausage
1 cup breadcrumbs or panko, or a combo
1/2 cup milk
1 cup shredded parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon oregano
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 eggs
1 28 oz can of good quality* crushed tomatoes
2 cloves of garlic, lightly crushed.
2 handfuls of spinach
3 shakes (about 1/8 teaspoon) ground nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 400 and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.  Measure out breadcrumbs and pour milk into them.  Then add breadcrumb/milk mixture to the turkey and sausage.  Add in cheese, red pepper, oregano and mix well.  Finally, add olive oil and eggs and mix with your hands until everything is evenly combined.  Form into 2 inch round meatballs and place onto the baking sheet.  Bake for 25-30 minutes.  Meanwhile, saute the garlic in a little bit of olive oil until it becomes fragrant.  Add the crushed tomatoes and spinach.  When the meatballs are finished, add 8 or so to the sauce and let simmer while you cook the pasta.  Finish the sauce with the few shakes of nutmeg and serve with parmesan on top.

*This is not the time to skimp: the better quality tomatoes, the better the sauce will taste.  However, if your sauce has a little acidity or metallic taste from the can, add in a few tablespoons heavy cream (or 1 tablespoon melted butter mixed with 2 tablespoons milk) to take away that bite.

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