About a month ago, Mr. J and I left the little one at home with the most qualified babysitters (his grandparents) and we went on a date! It was our first time out without him and boy were we rusty on date planning. I had been eyeing a pub-ish restaurant with fun burgers and a great beer menu. Turns out, it is closed. womp. womp. We then went through 2 more options and set out for a 3rd spot. On a whim, we checked in at Isabella Restaurant (which was our 4th restaurant idea, where the wait can be an hour on a TUESDAY) and they just had a table for two open up. Perfect!
It is sooo dark in there so there’s never a chance for a photo but the menu is always creative, pretty seasonal, the portions are substantial, and everything they make is excellent. I wish it were a bit more affordable, but this splurge was fun to celebrate our first date out. I got Turducken Meatballs that were turkey/chicken/duck meatballs with dried cranberries, spinach and red onions in a parmesan cream sauce. The meatballs were ah-mazing and I knew I wanted to recreate it at home, but I simplified it. Don’t get scared off by the cranberries. They’re such a great addition and this pasta dish wouldn’t be the same without them. Ditto for the red onion.
I used frozen chicken meatballs and ready-made alfredo sauce to turn my #restaurantrecreation into a speedy weeknight dinner. Everything cooks quickly so I had to move fast and keep an eye on it to not overcook anything. The meatballs I used were fully cooked and I didn’t want to obliterate the kale, onions, or cranberries so they were very lightly cooked.
chicken/turkey meatballs (about 2-3 per person, I used frozen caramelized onion chicken meatballs)
1 15-oz jar alfredo sauce
refrigerated pasta (I used a 9 oz pkg of linguine)
1 tbs chopped garlic
2 cups chopped kale
1/4 cup red onion, sliced fine
1/4 cup dried cranberries
Bring salted water to a boil for the pasta.
While the water heats, defrost the meatballs (if frozen) and chop the kale and onion.
Add the alfredo sauce to a large pan and add in the meatballs, garlic, onions, and kale over medium low heat. Cook for about 3-5 minutes, to warm everything and to cook the kale a bit.
Stir, and add in the cranberries to cook for another 2 minutes.
Cook the pasta according to the package. My fresh pasta only needed about 2 minutes. When al dente, add it to the pan with the sauce to cook just another minute or two.
Serve immediately and enjoy!
The fresh pasta makes a huuuge difference and is a great touch for a special treat. I like that the onions add a bite with the cranberries providing a tang and touch of sweetness. Spinach or arugula would be good in here too instead of the kale. If I were going all out, I’d make the sauce (and meatballs) myself but throwing this together was just so easy but became different flavors for us. I doubt I’d think to use red onion.
Fun fact: if red onion is too strong or overwhelming, or if you’re using it raw, you can soak it in cold water for 3-5 minutes. It’ll tone it down a bit while still giving some flavor.