2000s Recipes + Menus

Linguine with Rustic “Meatballs”

  • Active time:20 min
  • Start to finish:45 min
March 2009
Here we combine some favorite flavors in an eclectic pasta dish. We don’t think you’ll mind the loose definition of meatball: Free-form versions are terrifically satisfying and don’t require any shaping.
  • 1 1/4 lb meatloaf mix (ground beef, pork, and veal; preferably not mixed together)
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 large red onion, chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 cup sweet (red) vermouth
  • Rounded 1/8 teaspoon hot red-pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 3/4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 celery ribs, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 lb thin linguine or spaghetti
  • 1/3 cup celery leaves, coarsely chopped
  • Accompaniment:

    grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • Break meat into 1 1/2-inch clumps (do not mix meats). Heat 2 Tbsp oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Cook meat with cumin, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp pepper over medium-high heat, turning occasionally, until pale golden in spots (insides will not be fully cooked), about 3 minutes. Transfer meat with a slotted spoon to a plate.
  • Add remaining 2 Tbsp oil to skillet and cook onion, carrots, and garlic over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until onion begins to turn golden, 5 to 8 minutes.
  • Add vermouth and red-pepper flakes and bring to a boil. Whisk cornstarch into broth, then stir into onion mixture and return to a boil, stirring. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 3 minutes.
  • Stir in meat, juices from plate, celery, and lemon juice and simmer until meat is just cooked through, about 3 minutes.
  • Cook linguine in a pasta pot of boiling salted water (2 Tbsp salt for 6 qt water) until al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup pasta-cooking water, then drain pasta. Add to meat along with celery leaves and cook over medium-low heat until just heated through. Add cooking water to moisten if needed. Season with salt and pepper.
Cooks’ note: We’ve also got a Web-exclusive recipe using the leftover sweet vermouth.
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