No, that is not a bowl of SpaghettiOs A to Z with Meatballs. Alas, I couldn't find a can of one of the three meatball varietals recalled by SpaghettiOs if I tried. And, if I'm honest, maybe I have tried a little bit. SpaghettiOs with meatballs is one of my guilty pleasures. When I get the craving, I sometimes grab for Annie's somewhat less malnutritious (hey! I just invented a new word!) Pasghetti Loops with Soyballs. But there's just something about SpaghettiOs with meatballs; they're right up there with a good box of mac & cheese in their ability to tap into some deep childhood joy. And, in the past, I admit I've even attempted making a homemade version after discovering anellini, tiny ring shaped pasta, at the market. But, whether I made the sauce and meatballs from scratch or used store bought, my experiments always fell short. Until this weekend.
Even after having friends help initially with the potful of Creamless Creamy Tomato Soup, and having a bowl with a grilled cheese for lunch, I still had more leftover than I could eat myself without losing interest and enjoyment in this wonderful dish.
|Lunching on leftovers.|
So, it was time to experiment with the rest rather than throw it out. I used a couple small ladlefuls of leftover tomato soup to turn my usual clam pasta into a creamy tomato clam pasta, a variation I often make using marinara sauce. A couple steps in, I realized it tasted vaguely like SpaghettiO's sauce. An idea started to blossom.
|Creamy Tomato Clam Pasta|
At Andronico's, I found a large bag of mini-meatballs and my mind was made up. Heading to the pasta aisle, I was delighted to find a bag of alfabeto pasta. These not only seemed like a fun alternative, the anellini I'd used in the past always seemed to come out kind of chewy, like it never completely cooked all the way through. I'm a huge proponent of al dente, but when trying to mimic a beloved canned pasta, underdone noodles kind of defeat the purpose.
That night I baked up the meatballs, boiled the pasta, and started in on my new attempt at homemade SpaghettiO's. First, I warmed about 1/2 cup leftover tomato soup in a skillet on medium heat, then added 1 tablespoon low fat cream cheese. I stirred gently until the cream cheese melted and incorporated entirely into the soup. I slowly added another cup and a half or so of soup - all I had left - until entirely incorporated. Next, I melted in a couple of tablespoons of shredded parmesan and salted to taste. With the pasta and meatballs fully cooked (unlike the ones in the can have been the last couple of years, apparently), I stirred it all together.
Voila! My best homemade SpaghettiOs, yet! The husband man even said it was his new favorite of everything I cook, which of course warmed me right to the core. I myself can't stop thinking about them and wishing I had more soup to make them again. If the soup itself wasn't good enough to make again, which it was, the greatness of the SpaghettiOs delivered by the leftovers would keep me coming back.
I already have an idea in mind of how to streamline the process to make this dish without having to make the soup from scratch first. If it works out, I'll let you know about it.
As it was, I'd had just enough soup left to make two servings of VerosiOs. (V-RoniOs? Hmmm... I need to work on a name for this one...) That left me with two extra servings of alphabet pasta. I used one in a quick bowl of homemade mac with a microwave sauce of leftover cheese from the grilled sandwiches that went with the soup. It was actually pretty tasty once I added a couple of spoonfuls of Casa Chica salsa.
But neither this cheesy concoction, nor any experiment with leftovers in recent memory, has come close to the success of VeronicOs. No? Still not the right name? Hrmph. Maybe my readers can pick something better...