As I’ve said before, I’m not eager to make traditional Italian meatballs for my husband. Traditional-ish, though. I can get eager about. Especially if the traditional-ish is an updated version of a weirdo food I loved as a child–canned SpaghettiOs (and yes, the O really is capitalized–I checked the official SpaghettiOs website). As soon as I saw the Bon Appétit recipe for Adult “SpaghettiOs” I wanted to make it. It looked homey and fun and tasty and I Ioved the description: “extra saucy and a little sweet.” Sign me up.
While I remember eating SpaghettiOs as a kid and really enjoying them, I can’t at all remember under what circumstances I ate them. When I think of eating non homemade food as a kid I think of a couple of specific things: frozen fish fingers and fried shrimp when my mom had a late meeting and dad was in charge of dinner, Stouffer’s lasagna at sleepover parties, and the occasional weekend lunch of Celeste pizza or Kraft macaroni and cheese. Yum. I think SpaghettiOs were probably also a sometimes lunch food, though I can’t remember picking them out or looking forward to them in quite the same way. I asked Joie if she remembered, and she agreed that they were a “weekend lunch thing,” maybe for when we were on our own for lunch, that she also really liked. And she shared a story that one third horrified me and two thirds cracked me up, making me so very happy I asked. She said:
“I do recall slicing the heck out of my thumb once on a can when I was home alone and I still have the scar to prove it.” WHAT?!?!? My sister is famous in the family for playing things close to the vest, so hearing this story for the first time at the age of 35 doesn’t quite surprise me. Nor does her answer to my asking how she handled it: “I think I put pressure on it, bandaged it up and carried on. It was an ugly cut with a jagged can lid but just on my thumb pad.” She reckons she was about eleven years old, and I can just picture her sweet little self standing in the kitchen, deciding what to do, and getting on with it. My brave and matter of fact sister, ladies and gents! You’ll need to open two cans for this recipe, so watch yourselves.
Potential for can-related injury aside, this is such a cozy recipe. I made it for a low-key Saturday night dinner with two of our best friends, with my new favorite salad dressing from the Small Victories cookbook (something I need to make again and take pictures of asap!) and garlic bread on the side. And our guests were very excited to hear that SpaghettiOs were on the menu. This recipe is a crowd pleaser, from just the idea of it to the actual very tasty taste. Following my preference for make-ahead menus for company, I made the simple meatballs early in the day and did all the necessary prep for the sauce ahead of time so that I could get myself all set up to start actually cooking the sauce when our guests walked in. Twenty minutes of simmering time and some boiled pasta later, and we were good to go.
I highly recommend making this wonderfully tasty and silly dish anytime you want a little extra lightheartedness and coziness with your dinner–say, while awaiting election results, perhaps? Just a thought. I followed the recipe just as written on the Bon Appétit website, and loved it. And I definitely think it’s worth tracking down little “O” shaped pasta, rather than going with whatever you have on hand. Very much ups the nostalgia factor, in a fabulous way.