Spaghetti and Meatballs

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Spaghetti and meatballs, what’s there not to love? Spaghetti and meatballs has to be one of the most fun dishes ever invented, at least from a kid’s perspective.

Mounds of spaghetti, fork twirling strands in a spoon, tasty meatballs, even the very serving of the spaghetti, trying to lift just the right amount from the bowl, these are some of my favorite memories from childhood.

Spaghetti and Meatballs

 

No, it is not an authentic Italian dish, but an American adaptation. Who cares? Certainly not I.

This particular spaghetti and meatballs recipe was given to us by Rick Mindermann, of our local Italian grocery store Corti Brothers. Rick is one of these walking encyclopedias of food knowledge, whose enthusiasm for all things food and cooking is infectious.

For the following recipe, we adapted it slightly from Rick’s original, added salt to the sauce, cooked the onions before adding the garlic, but it is essentially the same recipe.

We love it! My father even declared the other day that from here on out, this is how we are making meatballs.

Spaghetti and Meatballs Recipe

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  • Prep time: 20 minutes
  • Cook time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 6

Ingredients

Sauce

  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ chopped sweet yellow onion
  • 3 cloves chopped garlic
  • 1 cup very finely chopped carrots
  • 1 cup chopped crimini brown mushrooms
  • 2 28-oz cans Italian plum tomatoes (get San Marzano brand if possible)
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh basil
  • 3 Tbsp tomato paste concentrate in tube
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan-romano cheese blend
  • Salt to taste (about 1 teaspoon)
  • ¼ cup red wine

Meatballs

  • 1 lb ground beef (at least 16% fat)
  • ½ lb fresh bulk Italian style pork sausage
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped basil
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • ½ cup finely chopped crimini brown mushrooms
  • 2 eggs
  • ¾ cup unseasoned bread crumbs
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan-romano cheese blend
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • Red wine

Spaghetti

  • 1 1/2 lbs dry 100% semolina spaghetti, thin spaghetti, or bucatini

Method

1 Prepare the sauce: Heat olive oil in 4-5 quart pot on medium-high heat. Add onions and cook for 2 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute or until fragrant.

Add the carrots and mushrooms, and cook for 2 minutes.

Add the canned tomatoes, basil and parsley. Mash and stir the tomatoes with a potato masher until sauce starts to thicken about 5 minutes over medium high heat.

Add tomato paste concentrate, stir to blend. Reduce heat and simmer while preparing meat balls, stirring occasionally.

2 Form the meatballs: Mix by hand in a large bowl the beef, Italian sausage, basil, parsley, mushrooms, eggs, breadcrumbs, cheese, herbed salt, and pepper. Do not over-mix or the meatballs will be tough.

Use small melon baller, or teaspoons to form 1-inch round meat balls. Roll and compress into tight balls.

3 Sear the meatballs: Heat frying pan on high heat. Add olive oil. Sear and brown meat balls on all sides. About 2-3 minutes.

Depending on pan size you may need to brown two batches of the meatballs. Do not crowd the pan by stacking the meatballs.

Cook in a single layer. Do not over-cook. As meatballs are finishing, add a little bit of red wine to de-glaze the pan.

4 Add red wine, cheese, salt, meatballs to sauce, simmer: Add ¼ cup red wine to the sauce. Then stir in ¼ cup cheese. Add salt to taste. Add meatballs, gently stir. Simmer sauce and meatballs for 30-45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

5 Cook the spaghetti pasta: While the sauce is simmering, bring a large pot with 4 quarts of water in it to a boil. Once the water is boiling, add 2 Tbsp of salt. When the water returns to a boil add the pasta to the pot.

Leave the pot uncovered while you cook the pasta on high heat with a vigorous boil. Put a timer on for 8-10 minutes, or whatever your pasta package directions say is appropriate for al dente (cooked but still a little firm). Drain.

To serve, place thin layer of sauce on plate, add pasta, add sauce and meatballs, sprinkle with grated Parmesan-romano cheese.

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Showing 4 of 40 Comments

  • Andrea Kearney

    I basically followed the recipe closely but with a few minor changes – doubled the recipe, used Laura’s Lean (92%) beef not higher-fat type called for in recipe (and it amounted to about 2.2 lbs not 2.0 lbs but it was fine), used Hunt’s brand tomatoes and pulsed lightly with stick blender while still in the can (so didn’t use potato masher), and inadvertently doubled the herbs one time too many. Still, this was really great! The red wine is super, don’t skip it. I thought there would be too many carrots as I was dicing them, but it was fine and I would not change a thing in the sauce next time. Thank you Elise!

  • Theresa

    Absolute Goodness! I’ve never wrote in to a site before, but I just made this tonight, with little variation as to what I had on hand, and OMG….sooo good. My husband is on his way home and he is going to love this! Wonderful sauce, and the meatballs….I am in heaven. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe Elise! Your site is great, and I will be returning for more ;))

  • Jon

    Try rolling the meatballs in Italian Breadcrumbs and baking them, turning until evenly browned, rather than sauteing in olive oil. This gets rid of a lot of grease.

    You might try adding some chopped eggplant to the saute for the sauce and some sliced black olives

  • Alexis Ellington

    They did not work for me and the meat balls tasted weird but other than that thanks for the recipe .

  • steve

    just made it last night. Kids went crazy. I added Salmon heads in the sauce and cooked all day. Great flav. make sure you take the heads out before serving.

    Well that’s an interesting addition. So glad it worked for you. ~Elise

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