Creating recipes isn't a pastime—it's a passion. And a lot of fun.

The rules are few: Use 99% fresh ingredients (or thereabouts); make the dish simple but flavorful; make the dish flavorful but simple; be creative, not silly.

With this blog, I want to share new recipes, along with tips on ingredients and preparation, and, hopefully, show new cooks (and non-cooks) the pleasure in setting the table with a delicious homemade meal. The Briny Lemon is about fresh, simple, flavorful ingredients and easy cooking methods that help you bring the best to your family table. Your comments are welcome!

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Skillet-Baked Spaghetti and Meatballs

Add a new twist to your next spaghetti and meatballs with deliciously gooey fresh mozzarella baked golden brown on top in the same skillet everything is cooked in. (Actually, the skillet goes under the broiler, but we’ll count that as baked.) The meatballs are easy to put together, the crushed tomato sauce couldn’t be simpler, and it takes only six ounces of quick-cooking thin spaghetti to fill up four.

Tip: I sliced six ounces of fresh mozzarella from an eight-ounce ball. You can also use smaller balls, thinly sliced—however many it takes to equal about six ounces. And another tip: Don’t worry about cutting pretty, perfectly round slices. Fresh mozzarella balls can be unwieldy when slicing, and that’s just fine.

Mozzarella Ball
Sliced Mozzarella
Serves 4

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1/3 cup soft breadcrumbs
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped shallot
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1-1/2 cups crushed tomatoes (from a 28-oz can)
  • 2 tsp dried oregano, divided
  • 1/2 tsp dried red chile flakes
  • 6 oz thin spaghetti
  • 6 oz fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
  1. Preheat the broiler.
  2. Place the ground beef and next 5 ingredients (through shallot) in a large bowl and season with salt and pepper. Mix lightly to combine and form the mixture into 12 equal meatballs (about 1-3/4 inches in diameter).
  3. Heat a large, ovenproof skillet over medium heat and add the olive oil. Add the meatballs and cook, turning until lightly browned on all sides, 6-7 minutes total.
  4. Add the crushed tomatoes, 1 teaspoon dried oregano, and chile flakes and season with salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook until the meatballs are tender and just cooked through, 10 minutes.
Ready to Mix 
Meatballs Ready to Cook
Beginning to Brown 
Browned Meatballs 
Tomato Mixture Added
Cooked Sauce
  1. Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti in boiling, salted water until al dente, 5 minutes. Drain.
  2. Stir into the sauce and spread the mixture evenly in the skillet.
  3. Arrange cheese slices on top and sprinkle with the remaining 1 teaspoon of dried oregano.
  4. Transfer the skillet to the broiler and broil until the cheese is bubbly and beginning to brown, 4-5 minutes. Remove and let rest 5 minutes.
Spaghetti Added 
Cheese Added 
After Broiling
 Divide among 4 plates and serve.

Skillet-Baked Spaghetti and Meatballs

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