I do hope you've had a beauty of a day on Talk Like a Pirate Day. We celebrated, as ever, with a piping hot bowl of Pirate Pasta.
Pirate Pasta has been a favorite of the wee mateys ever since my friend Angela told me about it. It's one of the two things they actually request for dinner (the other is Chicken Milanese). It's called Pirate Pasta because it combines small meatballs (cannonballs!) with penne (spyglasses!) and marinara sauce* (uh ... marines!).
*Okay, nitpickers, it's not technically marinara sauce if there is meat in it. But you put it together as a marinara, then add meat to it ... whatever WALK THE PLANK.
In a big bowl combine ground turkey and Italian sausage. Add an egg and/or dry breadcrumbs to hold it all together. Oh, and you'll need salt and pepper and what not. So mix all that together with your hands and form small meatballs. I make these in big batches and freeze them for use as necessary; if you're using them on the same day, you should at least give them an hour or so in the fridge to set up.
When the time comes, you will want to brown the meatballs in a pan without cooking them all the way through.
I usually make marinara in a crock pot. Turn up the heat in an empty crockpot to high and let the crock heat for a couple of minutes. Add olive oil and let that heat for a minute or two. Add about 1/2 of an onion, finely chopped and 2-3 cloves finely chopped garlic. Let those heat for a minute and add a small can of tomato paste. Stir around the tomato paste to heat it up, and you're almost there. Add a can of tomato sauce and a can of diced tomatoes in their juices. If you have a carrot in the fridge and no other plans for it, you could grate it and add it to the sauce for a little sweetness. In any case, cover the crock pot and cook for at least a couple of hours.
Boil water, add salt and make some penne according to package directions, except take them off the heat a good two minutes ahead of time. They're going to finish cooking with the rest of the ingredients. You might want to reserve some naked penne (and finish cooking them), just in case any of the scurvy lads at the table decides not to eat anything that has touched a vegetable.
When everyone starts agitating for dinner, you should put all this stuff together. Ideally, it's cold enough outside that you can turn on the oven to, say, 350. Add the penne to the meatballs and marinara. Put the whole mess into a pan (esp. this brownie pan with all the curves). Sprinkle the top with mozzarella and a bit of Parmesan. Bake uncovered at 350 until it's all bubbly and yummy-looking. Don't go far--we're talking about 15 minutes or so.
When it's hot outside and you're still running the AC, you have to do all that last part in a regular pan in the microwave, which is definitely inferior. But, you know, it's better than a sharp stick in the eye.