Spaghetti and meatballs is an easy and delicious Italian dish! Incredibly juicy and tender meatballs swimming in a flavorful homemade marinara sauce! Serve over spaghetti for an Italian dinner!
Spaghetti and Meatballs
Spaghetti and meatballs, just like nonna used to make! Back in Italy, they didn’t eat meatballs with spaghetti until very recently. In fact, serving meatballs with spaghetti was an invention of Italian migrants in the US, and only really became popular in Italy in the 20th century. But boy, did it take off! Italian-style meatballs - or polpette - have been common all over Italy for centuries. Typically, they were served as an appetizer, with some cheese, herbs and a rich tomato sauce. However, we all know the best way to eat meatballs is with a hearty bowl of spaghetti!
The meatballs we’ll be making with this recipe are tender, juicy, and absolutely packed with flavor. You might be wondering why the meatballs at your favorite Italian trattoria or restaurant are so perfectly tender while retaining their structural integrity. The secret ingredient is using a combo of meats and some bread, or breadcrumbs. We’ve found that a combo of lean beef and sweet Italian sausage has the perfect flavor and texture for great meatballs. Besides, if you think about it, the original polpette was simply the ground-up combination of whatever other meats were available, so this is really true to tradition!
What You 'll Need
To make the perfect meatballs, we’ll be using Italian breadcrumbs. Lean ground beef with no more than 10% (and as low as 7%) and Italian sausage is the best combo. Freshly grated parmesan - or, better yet, parmigiano-reggiano - is ideal, but store-bought will be OK too because we’re cooking the cheese.
Finally, be generous with your garlic! Add a healthy amount of garlic to your meatballs as well as to your sauce.
How to Make Italian Meatballs
- Chop onion, garlic and parsley, using a food processor.
- Get yourself a nice big mixing bowl and throw in your lean ground beef, your sausage, parmesan cheese, the chopped veggies with parsley, salt & pepper, egg, tomato sauce (marinara), Dijon mustard, Italian seasoning and bread crumbs. Mix these all together until you have an evenly combined mix of all ingredients. Don’t OVERMIX or the meatballs will be dense.
- Form your meatballs by taking about 2 tablespoons of the meat mixture and rolling it between your hands into a ball shape. About 2 inches to 2 inches should be a great size for your meatballs. The important thing is to ensure that they’re all about the same size so the meatballs all cook evenly. You can use an ice cream scoop to take the mixture. Roll your meatballs in flour, then saute them in a heavy pan with plenty of oil to get a nice brown sear on all sides. You can do this in batches to avoid crowding the pan and undercooking the balls. Once browned, set your meatballs aside and get ready to make the mother of all marinara sauces.
This marinara sauce is rich, red, and robust. Did you know that the term “marinara sauce” comes from the Italian word for sailor, “marinaio”? The red sauce was either invented aboard ships returning from the Americas with newly discovered tomatoes, or by their wives upon their return. The sauce was named for the sailors who loved eating it on bread, or freshly prepared pizza, and entered the Italian-American lexicon as shorthand for the rich, red sauce we all know and love.
To make the best marinara sauce, we use crushed tomatoes, basil, and bay leaves. Sometimes, tinned tomatoes have added ingredients such as the basil, in which case you can leave out the fresh herb. We generally advise you to take advantage of fresh herbs where you can.
How to Make Marinara Sauce
- Make your marinara sauce in the same heavy pan so the sauce absorbs all the meaty goodness that might have leaked out of the meatballs during cooking. Saute a cup of chopped onions, bay leaves and about four (or more) cloves of minced garlic, stirring as you go. You want the onions to turn transparent, which is when you throw in your tinned tomatoes. Remember, a longer simmer means a deeper flavor. Stir your mix as you’re going.
- Next, add the meatballs to the sauce, stirring as you go, and let them immerse in the sauce. Cover the pan, let the mix simmer gently for about half an hour, and then check it out.
- You want the meatballs tender and the sauce thick. You can keep this sauce on a low heat for longer if you want softer meatballs and thicker sauce, but if you do this for too long the meatballs will break apart in the sauce. The resulting pasta dish will be similarly delicious as a ragu, but it won’t be the meatball and spaghetti dinner you set out to make.
- Five minutes before serving, throw in your freshly chopped basil, add some salt and pepper according to taste, and get ready to eat some delicious meatballs.
You’ll want to cook your pasta until it is al dente, or “to the tooth”. Pasta should provide a little resistance when you bite into it, but not much. The trick with spaghetti is to bite through a strand, and look at the center of the spaghetti. If you can see a little white dot in the middle of the spaghetti strand, you’ve successfully prepared pasta al dente.
However, if your family prefers soft pasta, feel free to overcook it. It’s totally up to you!
To serve, pour your sauce and meatballs over the pasta in the pot and stir gently to combine. You want your marinara sauce to coat each strand of spaghetti so it absorbs all the flavor.
Other Spaghetti Recipes You May Like
If you make this recipe be sure to leave a comment or give this recipe a rating ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐! I will be happy to hear from you!Print
All rights reserved. CHEF JAR. All images and content are copyright protected. PLEASE do not use my images without my permission. If you want to share this recipe, PLEASE provide a link back to this post.