Barbara first made Penne Ala Vodka for her son’s engagement party using a recipe from a friend of a friend. It has undergone a few changes over the years before it became an all-time family favorite. As you may know, whenever possible we always make a gluten-free version of our recipes for Teresa’s husband Jack. We don’t want him to ever feel left out. This recipe was very easy to convert since you just replace regular penne pasta with Gluten-Free penne pasta. Thanks to great improvements in gluten-free products, having Celiac’s disease no longer means you have to miss out on delicious pasta meals.
This recipe is delicious and not your typical restaurant flavor. If you’re not a fan of a little heat, omit the cayenne but it’s really not a strong kick.
Prepare basic tomato sauce ahead of time (see recipe link below)
One of our best Sunday morning memories is of our mother frying meatballs for our Sunday dinner. There is something to be said for the wonderful aroma of meatballs frying along with the anticipation of the meal to follow, as it was usually shared with grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. It wasn't just a meal...it was an event! Sundays were always special in our home because we would get to spend time with our cousins who we had so much fun with. As soon as Mom started placing the cooked meatballs in the bowl we would sneak into the kitchen to grab them out of the bowl while they were still hot; a tradition that our children and husbands still carry on today! Most of our followers know my husband Jack has celiac disease and I've had to adapt all our recipes to gluten-free when cooking for him. Converting some recipes can be quite challenging; however, I used some really good GF Italian style bread crumbs to substitute for the Italian bread and Jack loves them! Without a doubt the best Italian style Gluten-Free meatballs ever! 😋😋
1 lb ground beef 80-85% lean/20-15% fat
1/2 cup whole milk
4 ounces Aleia’s Italian Bread Crumbs* (please see note below)
4-5 garlic cloves, finely chopped or grated
1/2 large onion, finely chopped
3 Extra-Large eggs
1 ½ large handfuls grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1 handful fresh parsley, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
EVOO (for frying)
Place ground meat in a medium size mixing bowl, break up with a fork and set aside.
In a small bowl, soak bread crumbs in 1/2 cup milk until completely absorbed (about 2-3 minutes). This should yield about 1 cup of bread crumbs. (If too loose add a little more bread crumbs. If too dry, add a little more milk).
Place bread crumbs on top of ground meat.
Add the onion, garlic, salt, and pepper to combine well.
Make a well in the center of the meat mixture and place all the eggs, Pecorino Romano cheese, and the parsley.
With a large fork scramble the eggs, cheese, and parsley in the well, then start to combine into the entire meat mixture. You can do this best with your hands that are scrupulously clean or with gloves…your preference.
Once well combined (don’t over mix) scoop out about 1/2 handful of meat mixture and roll into a ball and place on parchment or waxed paper. Continue making meatballs until all meat has been formed.
In a large skillet pour enough EVOO to half the size of your meatball. Let the oil get hot, then working in batches, brown all sides (Don’t overload, allow each meatball some breathing room).
When meatballs are browned and crisp remove to a paper towel lined bowl or tray. Repeat until all meatballs are cooked.
30 minutes before your tomato sauce is ready, place cooked meatballs in the tomato sauce and continue cooking the sauce.
Serve with your favorite pasta and enjoy!
Notes: These meatballs are delicious as a stand-alone meal with or without tomato sauce. Make them smaller and they become a delicious appetizer
* As a substitute for the breadcrumbs above, I have also used with great success UDI’sGluten-free white bread soaked in milk or Against the Grain gluten-free baguettes soaked in milk. Against the Grain is my preference; however, this brand is not available in the Wilmington, NC area.
Mixing breadcrumbs with ground beef, onions, and garlic
We have been trying an ocean full of different crab cake recipes only to find they had too much breading or too much seasoning which took away from the rich crab taste & texture we were looking for. We also wanted to make sure it was gluten-free without anyone being able to detect the difference. We think we hit a home run with our crab cake recipe which checked all the boxes for us. Serve as a main dish over mixed salad greens topped with our homemade tartar sauce, coleslaw even your favorite pasta with a scampi sauce.🦀
Put crab meat in a small bowl, keeping the lumps together, do not break apart and set aside.
Put the Glutino crackers in a plastic bag and crush until very fine crumbs.
In a large bowl mix together all remaining ingredients including the cracker crumbs. (do not add crab meat at this time)
Take the crab meat and gently fold into the mixture without breaking up the lumps. Do not stir or mix, just fold until it looks uniform.
Line a baking pan with either waxed or parchment paper. Using a 1/2 cup dry measuring cup, loosely fill the cup & turn out to shape into patties then place on the waxed or parchment paper lined baking pan. Place in refrigerator for 60 minutes to set.
In a large skillet on medium heat, add the 2 Tablespoons of butter and 2 Tablespoons of EVOO.
Once the skillet is hot enough, place each pattie in the skillet making sure not to overcrowd. You should be able to get 8 patties in a 12-inch skillet.
Cook until a nice deep golden brown then carefully flip to cook the other side until deep golden brown.
If browning too quickly, lower heat to medium-low.
Remove and place on paper towels to absorb any excess butter/oil.
Serve warm or room temperature. Enjoy!
Notes: To serve as an appetizer, make the crab cakes smaller and serve on a platter with some homemade tartar sauce.