Recently, I checkout out ancestry.com with the hopes of finding out more about my ancestors and their immigration to the United States. I was able to find passenger lists of my great grandfather and his young family as they traveled from Naples, Italy to the US in the early 1900’s. Upon arriving, my ancestors changed their name to find work and settled in a small town outside of Pittsburgh, PA where their final son was born, my grandfather.
The “S.S. Canopic”, the boat which my ancestors would have crossed the Atlantic Ocean in. Photo taken from this website.
I grew up hearing stories about my ancestors; their work ethic, their perseverance and the sacrifices they made so that the next generation would have a better life. My immediate family has always tried to paid homage to these people by keeping some of the cultural traditions alive. I think we achieved this best through food. I can remember sitting down to huge meals with all of my grandparents and learning about the Italian and Eastern European cultures (both of my grandmothers’ families originated from Czechoslovakia) through what we were having for dinner that night. As we made spaghetti or pierogies from scratch, I began to feel connected to the people that lived so many years before me.
This recipe, therefore, is dedicated to my grandfathers. When I decided to start following a more Paleolithic lifestyle, I hit a low moment when I realized that I would have to give up a lot of the foods that remind me of home. I found this unacceptable, so I started to look for ways to reinvent these food so that they are more healthy, but still retain the old country flavors.
This post is less scientific in nature but it emphasizes the important role that genetics plays in our life. We inherit not only DNA from our parents, grandparents, etc., but also wisdom, integrity, experience and human flaws. All of these aspects contribute to how we look, feel, think and interact in this world. I hope you enjoy this spin on a traditional dish and that this post makes you think about reconnecting with your own past.
Primal Spaghetti and Meatballs
Meatballs were inspired by “Mama Maroni’s 1oo year old recipe”.
- 1 lb ground chuck
- 4-6 ounces almond flour (start with 4 and if the mixture is still too wet keep adding a little more at a time)
- 4 eggs
- 4 ounces whole milk
- 6 ounces Romano cheese, freshly grated
- 3 ounces sweet onion, grated
- 2 ounces garlic, minced
- 2 ounces fresh Italian parsley, chopped
- 2 ounces fresh basil, chopped
- salt and pepper
- coconut oil
- 2-3 large zucchini, julienned
- 2-3 cups of organic homemade or store bought tomato sauce. We used “Nature’s Promise Organic tomato sauce” because: 1) we were too lazy that Sunday to make our own, 2) it tastes great, 3) we can pronounce all of the ingredients and 4) it only has 4 carbs per serving, which we like because we try to limit excess carb intake.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheet with foil and spread some of the coconut oil onto the pan to prevent the meatballs from sticking.
- Chop/grate/mince the romano cheese, onion, garlic, parsley and basil. I used a small food processor for the herbs because this takes FOREVER to do by hand. I promise though, the fresh cheese and herbs make this dish!
- Combine meat, eggs, almond flour, milk, cheese, onions and herbs in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper.
- Mix the ingredients using your hands until everything is incorporated. The mixture will be wet, but if it’s not sticking together, gradually add a little more almond flour.
- Roll large, golfball-sized meatballs and place on pan
- Bake for 35-40 minutes
- While the meatballs are baking, julienne the zucchini using a mandolin with the proper attachment (see photo and link). This should make heaps of vegetable “spaghetti”. I included the link to that particular mandolin because you can see the attachment blade (the one lying in front of the mandolin to the right, with small teeth) that you need to use to make these zucchini strands.
- When the meatballs have about 10 minutes left of baking time, warm the spaghetti sauce in a large saute pan. After the sauce has heated, add the zucchini strands and saute for no more than 5 minutes. Taste the strands just as you would normal spaghetti pasta, you want the zucchini to still have a bite.