Some 22 years olds living in New York City. Like to go out on Friday or Saturday nights. Sometimes both, if they have a particularly strong liver. And/or a particularly full bank account.

I used to be one of those 22 year olds.
Not anymore.

I don’t want to sound chauvinistic or arrogant or anything. But I’ve got better things to do. Such as frequent the VIP room in one of the city’s most exclusive night clubs.

It’s a small place. Up-and-coming, if you will. You probably haven’t heard of it. But lucky for me, it’s only just across the street. So while everyone else is spending hours getting ready, primping, doing their make-up, pregaming, and then bundling up to brave the New York City winter. I get to just throw on my scrubs and head out the door.

Hold on.

Wait a minute.


Oh yes. You read correctly.

Because this “night club” is none other than the Weill Cornell Medical School Anatomy lab. No one would have ever guessed it, but with our first test being Monday (today), anatomy lab was apparently the place to be on Friday and Saturday night.

If you could have seen us all trekking over in one huge mass of sea green. You would have been absolutely certain that something fantastic was going down. A free concert, maybe. With free food. (There is nothing that medical students love more than free food. Unless it’s pizza from La Famiglia’s, which is possibly the worst pizza chain in this city. I wouldn’t touch it with a ten foot pole. Even if you paid me.)

But no. There was no incentive. Other than self motivation. And peer pressure. All the cool kids were doing it.
And so even though it is really entirely uncharacteristic of me. I spent my weekend studying.

If you need to know which nerve innervates which muscle in your back, axilla, arm, forearm, or hand? I can tell you.

Or if you have any desire to find out where these muscles attach or insert? Done. And done.

Plus I also know a little bit about placenta and limb bud formation. How that fits in with all this anatomy business, I’m not quite sure. But my professors thought they would throw it on the test. For kicks.

Even really dedicated medical students, such as myself (okay you can all laugh now), however, need to take study breaks. They’re good for the soul. And your sanity.

We also need to eat. Which is where this meal came in. This recipe for keftedes was the second recipe that the Symon Sundays group was scheduled to make this week. I was particularly excited about it because it has you mix cinnamon. Into the meat. Along with nutmeg. Intriguing? Yes. Delicious? Yes.

This Michael Symon dude really knows what he’s doing.

He may be my new best friend.

And then because keftedes are essentially meatballs? I had to make some pasta to go along with them. Stay true to my Italian roots. I wouldn’t want to be excommunicated or anything like that.

Plus when I came across this recipe for cinnamon-scented tomato sauce. It kind of sealed the deal. And let me tell you. You haven’t had tomato sauce. Until you’ve had this tomato sauce. It was absolutely amazing. A sensory revelation.

Try it. Now.
Serves 4, adapted from Symon’s Live To Cook

1/2 cup onion, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup day-old bread, cubed
1/2 cup milk
1 lb ground lamb or beef (I chose lamb)
1 egg
1 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp coriander
1/4 tsp cumin
1/8 tsp cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. (Okay, so Symon says to fry these. But I baked them. I knew he would be angry. But I did it anyway.)

2. Heat 2 tsp canola oil. And the onion and a three-finger pinch of salt and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Toss in garlic and cook 2 or three minutes. Scrape into a bowl and let cool.

3. Put the bread in a small bowl and pour in the milk.

4. Combine the onion and garlic mixture with the meat. Add the egg. Squeeze out the bread. Discard the milk. Add the bread, cumin, oregano, cinnamon, and nutmeg to the mixture along with a 1 tsp of freshly ground black pepper. Mix. With your hands. It’s the real reason why I make meatballs.

5. Form the meat into 16-20 little balls. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 25 minutes, turning once.
Greek Cinnamon-Scented Tomato Sauce with Pasta
Serves 4 as a side, adapted from Belly of the Beest who got it from The Splendid Table

1 medium onion, chopped
1/3 cup parsley, chopped
1/2 can tomato paste
6 cloves garlic
3/4 tsp oregano
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 14 oz can diced tomatoes
1/2 lb pasta

1. Set up the water for the pasta.

2. Spray a pan with cooking spray. Saute the onion and parsley, along with some salt and pepper, until the onion is golden brown. Stir in the tomato paste, garlic, oregano, cinnamon, sugar, and red pepper flakes. Cook for 1 minute. Add in the white wine. Cook 1 minute.

3. Pour the tomatoes into the pan. Cook on high for 8 minutes or until thick. Taste for seasoning.

4. Cook the pasta.

5. Mix the two together. Top with keftedes and parsley.

This is my submission to this week’s Presto Pasta Nights which is being hosted by Chaya of Sweet and Savory!

You are reading this post on Eats Well With Others at Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author and or owner of Eats Well With Others. All rights reserved by Joanne Bruno.
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72 Responses to Keftedes Over Greek Cinnamon-Scented Tomato Sauce With Pasta

  1. That’s the fanciest spaghetti and meatballs i have ever seen!

    Seriously, this is terrific, and I love that last photo. It is magazine quality look!

    Break a leg with the test

  2. I love the flavor combination that these recipes have. Meatballs are so yummy.

    LOL at your night at the anatomy lab. Good luck on the test.

  3. Kim says:

    I laughed about the part where you said “Symon says to fry them, but I baked them”. I don’t know, something about Symon says remind me of children’s game. I’ve never tried cinnamon with meat or tomato sauce, but I would be game for it. It looks great in the pictures. Good luck on your test:D

  4. I love the spices in the meatballs and the sauce sounds terrific with cinnamon!

  5. You remind me so much of my daughter who shakes the traditional “starving student” lable and eats healthily and very well. I suppose it helps that she is in the dietetics program but these keftedes could easily be on her menu as well as mine.

  6. s says:

    I am AMAZED at how u manage to cook eat and postt ur wonderful creations..and study…studious or not!

  7. SE says:

    All the best for your tests !!!and of course a great taste with the cinnamon and nutmeg !!

  8. Cristie says:

    Joanna, this really looks like my kind of meal. I’ll report back after I’ve tried it. Wow. What a great looking dish. You’ll ace the test.

  9. Elra says:

    This is really delicious Joanne. I absolutely want to try it.

  10. Bob says:

    Heh, I do not envy you med school. Or your future career. I used to work in a hospital and always wondered how the doctors survived, they all seemed to live there…

    The meatballs look awesome though, I love lamb!

  11. Not sure I’d like your ‘night club’ but the pasta and Keftedes look delicious!

  12. Don’t tell me about anymore cookbooks! I have agreed not to buy anything until we move and my list of cookbooks is getting very long. =/ The Keftedes do tempt me!!

  13. SallyBR says:

    I just got this book a couple of weeks ago – good to know this recipe is so tasty, I had it bookmarked to try sometime, but now I’ll move it to the “ASAP” category…. 🙂

  14. Mo Diva says:

    I love scrubs- so comfy!

    my stomach is growling. the pic is absolutely FAB and the meal looks amazing!

  15. Michelle says:

    I can almost taste these! I grew up in a large lebanese community and they also bake with cinnamon…love it in savory dishes!

  16. you crack me up girlie, the meatballs look fab, when you talk about tendons and muscles you cook meat!!

  17. Nostalgia says:

    Very nice.. very impressive that you did the whole thing from scratch. I love kefta!

  18. Kris says:

    Did I say how awesome this looks yet? LOL! Yum!!

  19. Barbara says:

    Oh yeah! Muscles and meatballs.
    And I’m loving those spices! Yummy dish.

    You know that nerve that makes that muscle work in my lower back? Well, I have a pain right there…….

  20. Oh i have a blizzard of questions on anatomy for u but i’ll save ’em for another time….when my taste buds and apetite arent at its peak as now…..dont blame me…..
    Its those lovely keftedes over greek cinnamon scented sauce on pasta that are having me work overtime here(my apetite ie…)
    Bye for now…with a drooolllllll

  21. Most importantly how was the test? Cinnamon tomato sauce sounds different

  22. Debbi Smith says:

    These look amazing! I, too, love making meatballs and meatballs just to be able to squish it with my fingers. I don’t make meatballs too often but I’ll have to try these.

  23. Wonderful!
    I made mine last night, we loved them too.
    Great flavour.
    Please, when you learn why we get sudden random pains like a hot, electrically charged knitting needle jabbing us over and over in one spot for a minute.. and then it goes away..
    Let me know!

  24. Pam says:

    I love cinnamon with meat.

  25. Jen says:

    wow, that looks delicious ya gotta cook this for me someday! =) your pictures are fabulous too!

  26. katecooks says:

    i am really loving the presentation in your last photo! i feel like i am reading a cookbook or something. i’m not very adventurous with meat but i just might have to try that sauce. the cinnamon addition sounds really good!!

  27. Maria says:

    I love the addition of cinnamon!

  28. These sound delicious. The pictures make me wish I wasn’t eating instant oatmeal and my work desk.

  29. Cinnamon and nutmeg? Pasta? I am all over this one! I can’t tell you how delicious those look as I’m sitting here listening to my stomach angrily grumble. I wish they were my dinner!

  30. doggybloggy says:

    thats some fancy macaroni thats for sure and your vip club does not sound like the velvet rope I want to get behind –

  31. Gulmohar says:

    I think I will also graduate with you after reading all these stories about the muscles and…These dishes look fabulous, so full of flavors .Lovely clicks too !!!

  32. Faith says:

    Your pictures are incredible! I recently made a bolognese with cinnamon and nutmeg and I know what you mean…it’s so good! I couldn’t really pick the spices out, but they really helped to give the sauce a deep, complex flavor.

  33. Juliana says:

    Oh! What a nice mratballs, sure they look delicious, love the idea of adding cinnamon…yummie, so tasty 🙂 Nice pictures!

  34. teresa says:

    this is fantastic, i really need to get that book! and good for you for studying over the weekend, you’re much more motivated than i was in school!

  35. teresa says:

    woops, wrong account, that was me!

  36. You never cease to amaze me! Your energy knows no bounds! I love this meal – and can’t wait for next paycheck to try it out. 🙂

  37. Elizabeth says:

    Yum… I could go for a big bowl of that right about now.

  38. Amy says:

    Every once in a while you remind me how old I am. My idea of a fantastic Friday or Saturday night, these days, is to stay up past 10. These women having babies in their 50’s? INSANE. Don’t care about modern medicine. They’re still nuts.

  39. Chef Aimee says:

    Man, the perfect dinner would be this recipe eaten in nice comfy scrubs on the couch while watching reruns of the Golden Girls. Don’t ask me how I came up with that, but all three are blissful in their own way! 🙂

  40. PJ says:

    Love the cinnamon scented pasta sauce and the keftedas! greek flavorings to this meatball and spaghetti dish is such a nice take! Thanks for stopping by my blog, Joann, I am sure glad you did because now I found your blog! I am also like you striving to keep the 30some pounds that I lost a year ago off of me; and my blog is a motivation for me to keep cooking healthy and keep making my favorite heavy dishes healthy while still yummy. I’ll be sure to visit this place often to come back for more such delicious recipes.

  41. The meatballs sound amazing! Thanks for sharing the recipe!

  42. sophia says:

    Cinnamon tomato sauce? Wowza!!! That looks and sounds really good!
    Haha, oh Joanne, night club or not, you are SUPER cool in my eyes! Even though you ARE a sciency person, and I hate science.

  43. Paul Wynn says:

    Nice presentation. Meatballs look delicious =P

  44. Kathleen says:

    Oh baby! This is the kind of food I live to cook for!

  45. Debinhawaii says:

    Baking is always the way to go with meatballs I think. They look delicious!

  46. Ruth Daniels says:

    By now (Tuesday) the exam has come and gone and you’ve done brilliantly.

    I do love your funny stories and even more, your totally delicious pastas. So glad you still can find the time to share with Presto Pasta Nights.

  47. Dharm says:

    Note to self – Do Not come visit Joanne’s blog when I havent had dinner yet. This looks just amazing and I am salivating here….

  48. Jennie says:

    These look soooo good! That last picture!!! You rock Joanne!

  49. theUngourmet says:

    Oh my goodness! I love the sound of cinnamon-scented tomato sauce. Yummy! Your photos are gorgeous too!!

  50. lisa says:

    The cinnamon scented sauce sounds amazing, and I think I need to get Symon’s book!

  51. chrystad72 says:

    These pics are so gorgeous. Im the same way as you about the weekends too! I used to go out alot but now I think I can find way better things with my time. ha. I love going out and traveling maybe i should say. Hitting up a new hiking trail or something sounds like a great weekend to me=) I love the combination of these ingredients. Cinnamon adds such a beautiful and complex warmth to a dish I think. Very awesome girl. I hope you are having a great week so far!

  52. Andreas says:

    Cinnamon in meatballs sounds interesting. Maybe I will try it before winter gets over.
    Your food pictures are improving by leaps and bounds too.

  53. Karen says:

    I followed a recipe not long ago for lasagna with cinnamon in the sauce. I almost didn’t add it in, but in the end, did and it didn’t quite do it for me. Your photos are great!

  54. Julie says:

    i think i saw paris and nicki hilton at that club last weekend..they had on pink scrubs..

    haha girl you gotta do what chu gotta do ya know? citay life is espensive! and you got your priorities right apparently so does michael symon because those balls look off the hizzy

  55. All these keftedes flying around the blogosphere is making me really hungry!!

  56. ruchikacooks says:

    The pasta just looks gorgeous. Nice and filling plate.

  57. Mari says:

    I am so proud of you chickie! I admire your dedication. and as always I love love what you made!

    (I love the new layout of your pics)

  58. Joanne
    I think you should be a writer! Your posts are so witty and well-written I could read you on a daily basis; you remind me of Erma Bombeck.
    These meatballs sound like they have Lebanese seasoning in them! Yummy.

  59. Danielle says:

    this I have to try! It looks and sounds amazing!

  60. Shirley says:

    Now you have me drooling and laughing! I admire how you manage everything. You are one multi-talented girl!

  61. Wow, seriously fancy recipe Joanne! Sounds delicious and definitely new to me.

  62. monicajane says:

    meatballs with cinnamon everywhere lately…

    after I did mine I’ve seen yours and another though I can’t remember the blog off hand right now…

    love lamb…yum

  63. Graziana says:

    I love greek keftedes! I heard that you are the new administrator for Regional Recipes, I think I have the right idea for the Middle-East month!

  64. Katy ~ says:

    Love the sound of these primped up meatballs and sauce. The WOW factor is off the Richter scale.

  65. I love the cinnamon in the recipe. I am a cinnamon fan and I am finding it perks up dishes, beautifully.

    On my way to finish Presto Pasta Night delicious recipes.

  66. tigerfish says:

    Been a long long time since I have spaghetti and meatballs! Really…

  67. Kerstin says:

    I love all the spices in the meatballs – they look SOO good. I’ve been on a meatballs kick lately!

  68. Meredith says:

    I love that you baked them! I did not love the frying oil smell that my house had the rest of the night after I fried mine. Next time, bake not fry, for me!

  69. Ann says:

    I Ate Your Food – making this tonight!!!!! just randomly thought you should know….=)

  70. These were absolutely delicious! I used a mixture of beef and pork mince, and 2 tablespoons of Greek yoghurt instead of the milk-soaked bread (we don’t eat wheat), and they were some of the best meatballs I’ve ever made! Thanks so much, I’m bookmarking this one for sure!

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