Spaghetti (or other pasta) and Meatballs
This classic spaghetti (or other pasta) and meatballs, is rich and hearty and maximum comfort food. Served with some homemade fettuccine or spaghetti, it’ll become a favorite at your family table as it has for mine.
I mean, do I even need to convince anyone to try spaghetti and meatballs? It’s the ultimate comfort food, imo. And it’s especially so when you serve it with homemade pasta. For some reason when I make it with fresh pasta, I prefer the gulpier texture of fettuccine, but spaghetti is obviously also the perfect backbone to this dish. It’s in the name, afterall.
Honestly, I didn’t try to reinvent this recipe or anything, I didn’t see the point. It’s classic and perfect just the way that it is. And everyone does it a little differently anyway. I just used classic techniques and new little tricks and simplified the whole process for the home cook.
Oh, and I served it with fresh fettuccine. But you totally don’t have to do that, and it’s still amazing. You can really use almost any long pasta, but I don’t recommend going any thinner than spaghetti. It’s a hearty dish and needs a pasta that can stand up to the weight.
I think one thing I did that might be unique is the amount of veg I used in the sauce. It’s not actually for nutritional purposes. It’s really more for flavor. Carrots and onions have a high amount of sugar for vegetables, so bumping up the amount and cooking them on low heat for a long time caramelizes the sugars, and … well, color is flavor. Plus, mincing gives us more surface area, which means more of that caramelization. More flavor. And I like to brown the meatballs in a hot oven to get a nice browned crust on them. Even more flavor. And who doesn’t want more flavor?
I like to use a 3 tablespoon cookie scoop for the meatball mixture to get hefty, uniformly sized meatballs. That way everyone gets a fair amount. Because let’s be honest, no matter how grown up you are, when you see that the person sitting next to you has a bigger meatball, you start plotting how to distract them so you can steal it off of his or her plate.
You’ve been there, right?
Aaaaaanyway, go grab your ingredients and have some pasta and meatballs this weekend!
- 1/2 pound ground pork, preferably free range
- 1/2 pound ground beef, preferably grass-fed and grass-finished
- 1/2 cup panko
- 2 oz freshly grated parmigiano reggiano
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
- 4~6 large fresh basil leaves, sliced very thinly
- 1 egg
- 1 onion, grated on the large holes of a box grater
- 3 cloves garlic, minced or grated
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 4 carrots, chopped fine in the food processor
- 1 medium onions, chopped fine in the food processor
- 3~4 stalks of celery, chopped fine in the food processor
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 3 cans whole peeled tomatoes
- sea salt to taste
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
- good quality olive oil for cooking
- Preheat the oven to 475°F.
- In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients for the meatballs. Mix thoroughly but gently with your hands. Working with 3 tablespoons of the filling (I use a 3 tablespoon cookie scoop), roll it into a ball, being careful not to compact it too much, but making sure it holds together well. Being too rough will result in tough meatballs. Line a large baking sheet with parchment and arrange the meatballs on top. Place the meatballs in the oven and let roast until browned on top, about 15~20 minutes. Set aside.
- Meanwhile, prepare the sauce ingredients. In a large, heavy bottomed pot, heat enough olive oil to lightly coat the bottom of the pot over medium-low heat. Add the onions, carrots, and celery and season lightly with salt. Cook, stirring often, until the released liquid begins to evaporate and the vegetables begin to stick together. At this point you want to stir constantly, until the vegetables brown. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Immediately add the tomatoes and their juices, breaking up the whole tomatoes with a wooden spoon.* Let the sauce simmer for 15~20 minutes until slightly thickened. Add the cooked meatballs carefully into the sauce, submerging them as much as possible. Let the saucer simmer with the meatballs for another 15~20 minutes.
- While the sauce simmers, cook the pasta to al dente. Drain, reserving the cooking liquid. Add the pasta to a large serving bowl and add 1 cup of sauce and toss together. Add some of the starchy pasta cooking water to loosen the sauce as needed.** Arrange the meatballs on top of the pasta and pour the remaining sauce over it. Serve immediately.
- *You could also run the tomatoes through a food mill beforehand for a smoother sauce.
- **The starches in the water will not only loosen the sauce, but it will help the sauce cling to the pasta. It's a good rule to reserve cooking liquid whenever cooking pasta.