Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Soutzoukakia Me Hilopitakia (Greek Meatballs and Egg Pasta in Tomato Sauce)

I've mentioned before that I love pasta, but seriously, who doesn't? Carbs schmarbs. Pasta is great and it shouldn't be something anyone purposely avoids eating. Everything is fine in moderation--although I can probably eat a serving of pasta a day. That doesn't mean that I do of course.

Pasta is, however, something I usually make about once a week. My husband loves the basic linguine or fettuccine and he's not too keen on other shapes or forms of pasta. The kids--like their mother--eat anything put in front of them. So--fortunately for us, unfortunately for him--the hubbie is outnumbered. And I'll often make anything from penne, to orechiette, tagliatelle, linguine, orzo, campanelle, cavatelli, fettuccine, farfalle or the versatile Greek egg pasta known as hilopites.

I often use hilopitakia (as the smallest of this egg-based pasta is usually called) with stewed chicken or beef but decided yesterday to serve them with soutzoukakia (Greek meatballs in tomato sauce).

I'm hoping to get a pasta attachment for my KitchenAid standmixer so I can start experimenting with making this versatile pasta myself as I'm pretty sure it makes quite a difference to cook with fresh homemade pasta as opposed to store bought. For now, however, Misko is my favorite source, specifically their line of region-specific pastas and the Hilopitakia Metsovou I used below.

I'm sending this dish straight to Ivy of Kopiaste as she is hosting this week's edition of the yummy Presto Pasta Nights, originally created by Ruth over at Once Upon a Feast. Kali Orexi!

Soutzoukakia me Hilopitakia
Serves 6

1 1/2 pounds ground beef/pork/veal combo
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
1/4 teaspoon dried mint
1/2 teaspoon paprika
Small onion, grated
1/3 cup breadcrumbs
2 eggs
Salt and pepper, to taste

4 tablespoons olive oil
Small onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
1 26.5-oz. box chopped tomatoes
2 teaspoons tomato paste, diluted in 1/2 cup water
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1/2 teaspoon dried Greek oregano
Salt and pepper, to taste

1 pound Hilopitakia (small square-shaped egg pasta)

In a large bowl combine first 8 ingredients and knead briefly to mix. Cover and refrigerate for about an hour (time permitting).

In a large skillet heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Form the meat mixture into small oblong-shaped portions and brown in skillet. Remove each batch of browned meatballs to a plate and cover to keep warm.

Once all the meatballs have been browned and removed, add remaining two tablespoons of olive oil to the same skillet and saute the chopped onion and garlic until the onion has softened (scraping up all those tasty brown bits). Stir in the crushed red pepper flakes and then add the chopped tomatoes. Bring to boil, add the tomato paste, broth, parsley, oregano salt and pepper and stir. Reduce heat and simmer for about five minutes. Add the meatballs back to the skillet and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes more.

Spoon meatballs and 1/2 to 3/4 of sauce into a platter and keep warm. Add the hilopitakia to the skillet along with some water and cook until tender (add additional water or broth as needed to cook pasta through). Serve with the cooked soutzoukakia and tomato sauce spooned over.


Ivy said...

Hilopites is my daughter's favourite and whenever I ask what would you like me to cook, her reply is hilopites with chicken. I have never tried them with meatballs so I must try these soon. Maria, do get a pasta machine attachment. I've made hilopites about a year ago and they were delicious but there are so many pitas you can make as well and it is a piece of cake to make them.
Thanks for participating at PPN.

Mediterranean kiwi said...

pasta is a great way to keep a family away from starvation in a working-mother family. i think i'm serving pasta almost twice a week to the children these days.

as for soutzoukakia, even vegetarians are tempting trying them out - i like to add cinammon and cloves to mine

Núria said...

Mmmmm Maria, that sauce looks so rich and flavourful!!!! I'm a pasta addict too and so is my daughter! Never seen hilopites before, but would love to try... when is dinner time ready at your house? ;D

Laurie Constantino said...

It's been way too many months since I've had soutzoukakia, looking at your gorgeous pictures really makes me long for them. Thanks for the inspiration!
On pasta machines, I got the kitchen aid attachment that extrudes pasta and wasn't happy with it, so I bought an Atlas pasta machine instead and like the result much, much better. You can get the Atlas machines for a good price on ebay.

Peter M said...

Maria, i love the pairing of Soutzoukakia and hilopitakia. Your sauce is also a nice departure and tell your husband to eat whatever the family's eating - majority rules!

Maria said...

Thank you all for your comments! It's always grea to hear from you!
Thanks Laurie for the KitchenAid feedback. I was hoping someone would be able to tell me a little about it before I read some online reviews and made a decision. Good to know a fellow blogger in particular wasn't happy with it--thanks so much!

Laurie Constantino said...

You're welcome, Maria. I think, for me, the problem was the different texture that comes from extruding and rolling out. This is the one I had and didn't like:
After I posted, I saw kitchenaid now has a roller attachment:
I think the roller attachment would be just fine, although it is pretty pricy.

Anonymous said...

I was actually just telling my husband this week that it's been too long since we've had soutzoukakia. I actually serve mine over mashed potatoes. But I LOVE hilopites. I have a hard time finding them so I stock up when I do!

Rachel said...

Thanks for sending a plate of Spanakorizo over to Weekend Herb Blogging #166. The roundup is now posted.

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