I have not made meatballs and spaghetti in ages and I was thinking that they would be a nice change from my usual meat sauce with spaghetti. I guess the reason I don’t make them too often is that they are a little more time intensive; but today I have the time, feeling ambitious and they are so worth it! As I gathered my ingredients and began mixing and chopping my mind was going through the refrigerator hoping I had everything I need to make a caesar salad.
My little herb garden on the back deck is looking pretty sad except for the oregano and some thyme so that will go into the sauce for sure. This tomato sauce is thick and garlicky and after it has simmered with the meatballs it tastes even better. Then there is the garlic bread to sop up some of that rich sauce, mm-mmm, so good!
This recipe has been adapted from Time Life series, Foods of The World: The Cooking of Italy
Italian Meatballs and Spaghetti with Tomato-Garlic Sauce
An Italian style meatball and spaghetti main course with a garlicky tomato sauce that is full of flavor.
- 2 slices French or Italian bread, torn into small pieces
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1/2 pound sweet Italian sausage, not in casing
- 6 tablespoons freshly grated imported Parmesan cheese
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 4 teaspoons chopped garlic
- 1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
- 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- olive oil for browning
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup finely chopped onions
- 8-10 garlic cloves, minced
- 4 cups Italian plum or whole-pack tomatoes, coarsely chopped but not drained
- 1 six-ounce can tomato paste
- 1 cup red wine
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 8 ounces spaghetti (I like to use Buccatini, which is thicker than spaghetti and is a lot like a long skinny tube)
- Soak the bread in the milk for 5 minutes, then squeeze dry and discard the milk. In a large mixing bowl, combine the soaked bread, the beaten egg, 1 pound of ground beef, 1/4 pound of sausage, the grated Parmesan cheese, parsley, olive oil, garlic, lemon peel, allspice, salt and the black pepper. Mix with a wooden spoon until all the ingredients are blended but do not over mix or the meat will become tough.
- Form the meat into small balls about 1-1/2 inches in diameter. Place the meatballs on a tray or baking sheet in one layer and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours.
- In a large heavy-bottomed skillet heat 4 tablespoons of oil over moderate heat until a light haze forms over it. Fry the meatballs in batches of 5-8 at a time shaking the skillet constantly to roll the balls and keeping them round. As each batch browns remove them from the skillet and transfer to a plate lined with paper towels to drain any excess oil off. The meatballs will be slightly underdone and will finish cooking in the simmering sauce.
To make the tomato-garlic sauce:
- In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil and cook the onions over medium heat, stirring frequently, for 7-8 minutes. When the onions are soft and transparent but not brown, add the garlic and cook for another 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly. Stir in the chopped tomatoes and their liquid, the tomato paste, the red wine, thyme, oregano, basil, bay leaf, sugar, salt and pepper. Bring the sauce to a boil, turn the heat to low and simmer for one hour.
- Transfer the meatballs to the hot sauce and continue to simmer for another 15 minutes. In the meantime, prepare the pasta according to package instructions and when still firm (aldente) remove from heat, drain but do not rinse, reserve half a cup of the water and add to the sauce and meatballs. Serve the meatballs and sauce immediately over the hot pasta.