Margarita's International Recipes


Spaghetti and Meatballs

Spaghetti and Meatballs

Spaghetti and Meatballs is a classic Italian-American dish. You will find spaghetti in Italy, of course, and a couple of different meatballs show up in different Italian regional cuisines, but the dish as a whole is an American invention and one that has come to define Italian-American cuisine.

As you can expect with such a beloved dish, there are tons of recipes out there. Some are very simple, using barely any seasonings, while others are all about the bold flavors of Italian herbs such as oregano, dried basil and fennel. I perused through lots of recipe online, both for meatballs and pasta sauce, and finally decided to do a hybrid of the recipes I encountered, using what felt to be the most traditional ingredients.

My primary goal was to make large and light meatballs - and at that I succeeded. The recipe below got the consistency right. I was afraid they might be too crispy on the outside - though I felt I had to use the traditional method of pan frying them first and then cooking them in the sauce , but they were perfect. They weren't, however, as flavorful as I wish they'd been. They needed more salt, but I also think they could have done with more spices. The recipe below reflects the adjustments I will make next time (after all, I'm the only person likely to make this), rather than what I made. Basically, I'm just increasing the herbs a tad.

The sauce was not as successful as the meatballs. It was just too one dimensional and boring. It improved massively after I added Parmesan cheese and more spices. The recipe below is what I ended up making, rather than what I intended to make. Still, next time I might look for another one - or just use canned pasta sauce.


Spaghetti and Meatballs


    For the Meatballs

  • 2 slices stale Italian or white bread
  • 2 Tbsp milk or water
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1/2 lb ground pork
  • 1/2 cup Italian breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 3 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 Tbsp Italian seasoning
  • salt and black pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

    For the Sauce

  • olive oil as needed
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 28 oz can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 28 oz can tomato puree
  • 1 Tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 2 large bay leaves
  • salt to taste
  • 1 6-oz can tomato paste
  • 1 tsp basil
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese

    For the finished dish

  • 1 lb spaghetti
  • additional Parmesan cheese to taste


Make the meatballs

Place the bread slices in a bowl and pour milk or water on them. Let rest a couple of minutes, then squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Tear the bread into small pieces and put them into a large bowl.

Add ground beef, ground pork, breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, parsley, garlic, eggs and Italian seasoning to the bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Using your hands, thoroughly mix the ingredients. Form into about 12 large meatballs, or whatever size you like.

Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in a saute pan. Add the meatballs and brown on all sides. Remove to a plate covered in paper towels and place in the refrigerator.

Make the sauce

Scrap and remove any large pieces of meat left on the saute pan. Add olive oil so you have a thin layer covering the whole pan. Heat over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and cook until golden. Add the garlic and cook for an additional minute. Add the diced tomato and the tomato puree. Add the Italian seasoning, sugar, bay leaves and salt. Stir, bring to a boil, then cover, turn down the heat and simmer for at least 1 1/2 hours.

Stir in the tomato paste, basil, oregano, garlic powder and Parmesan cheese. Add the meatballs and simmer on low for 30 minutes, turning at least once.

Make the spaghetti

Boil spaghetti according to package instructions. Serve covered with the sauce, meatballs and additional Parmesan cheese.

Adapted from many recipes online.

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