Spaghetti and Meatballs are pure comfort food. Wow your family with these super soft and tender meatballs in a homemade marinara sauce tossed with swirls of hot buttered spaghetti.
For the Meatballs:
- 2 slices white sandwich bread (crusts removed and cut into small squares)
- 1 medium onion
- 3 tablespoons milk
- 1 egg
- One handful fresh parsley ((¼ cup chopped))
- 3 garlic cloves (minced)
- 1/4 cup (28g) parmesan cheese (freshly grated )
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- Optional: Pinch of nutmeg
- 1 lb (454g) ground beef ((See Note 1))
For the Marinara sauce:
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves (minced)
- 1 medium onion (finely chopped)
- 28 oz (800g) can tomato passata, puree, or 43oz (1220g) crushed tomatoes (See Note 2)
- 1/2 cup water (if using passata or puree)
- 1 teaspoon dried Italian herbs mix or 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar (or to taste)
- 1 teaspoon vinegar (or to taste (See Note 3))
- Black pepper (to taste)
- Red chili flakes (optional and to taste)
- 1 lb box (500g) spaghetti cooked until al dente and tossed with 1 tablespoon butter
- Parmesan cheese
- Optional garnish: finely chopped parsley
Make the Meatballs:
- Grate the onion using a standard size grater until you have about 1/2 cup of grated onion and juices.
- Combine grated onion and juices with bread cubes and milk. Set aside for a few minutes to allow the bread to absorb the liquid, then mash with a fork.
- Add the remaining Meatball ingredients, except the meat, and mix well.
- Add the meat and gently mix until just combined. Don’t overmix or the meatballs will be tough and dry. It’s ok to still see full pieces of ground meat.
- Form into 1 ½ inch sized meatballs by rolling in between your palms. It helps to dip your hands in water or to lightly coat them with oil to prevent the meat from sticking to your hands.
- Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat in a large pan, either a large skillet or a dutch oven.
- Add the meatballs and brown all over - about 3 - 4 minutes.
- When they are browned but not yet cooked through, carefully transfer them onto a plate.
Make the marinara sauce:
- In the same skillet over medium heat, add more oil if needed and sauté chopped onion stirring often until soft and golden, about 5 minutes. Add 4 cloves minced garlic and stir 1 minute.
- Add the tomatoes and the remaining sauce ingredients and bring to a simmer.
- Add the meatballs and any juices to the sauce and simmer on low for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. (If you use crushed tomatoes, you can simmer them for about 5-10 minutes before adding the meatballs to give the sauce a chance to thicken.)
- Taste and adjust the seasonings (salt, vinegar, sugar, chili flakes).
- Serve the meatballs with the hot buttered spaghetti. You can either top the spaghetti with the meatballs and marinara, or toss them all together. Garnished with extra parmesan and parsley, if using.
For an even more flavorful meatball, replace 4 ounces of the ground beef with Italian sausage, casings removed.
For Italian sausage flavor without adding sausage, just add a little of the same spices used in making Italian sausage: a half teaspoon each of crushed fennel seeds, paprika, dried Italian herbs, as well as an extra clove or two of garlic.
A higher fat content produces a juicier meatball. I use 85% lean beef.
For a smooth sauce, my first choice is Pomi Strained Tomatoes (passata). You can find it in Walmart or order it online. It’s smooth, perfectly thickened, and very flavorful. I use a 750ml carton (26oz). In the pictures above I have used 26oz (800g) of Pomi Strained Tomatoes (passata) and ½ cup of water.
If you can’t find Pomi Strained Tomatoes, you can use a 28oz (800g) can of tomato puree for a smooth sauce. Add water to thin as necessary.
If you like a chunkier sauce, use 43oz crushed tomatoes - a 28 ounce (800g) plus a 15oz (425g) can. It will not be necessary to add water.
Adjust the seasoning as necessary.
The right balance of salt, sugar, and acid gives the tomato sauce the perfect flavor. I use a teaspoon of each. This may be different for you depending on your taste and the type of tomato sauce you use. Taste and adjust accordingly.
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 20 minutes
- Category: Main Course
- Cuisine: American, Italian
Keywords: italian, meatballs, spaghetti