Spaghetti and Meatballs

One afternoon after camp, my older daughter sat in the back seat of the car and started telling me about her “dream meal.”  She said proudly, “Spaghetti and Meatballs with parmesan cheese and garlic bread.”  Ok then.  Since I can’t remember the last time I made that for her, I was curious where it came from.  She explained that was the counselor’s favorite meal – and all the kids agreed – that was their “dream meal” as well.  So much for being unique.  Couldn’t she have at least mentioned something I have posted on the blog recently?  It’s not like I don’t cook for her.

Ever since she decided that was her favorite meal, she begged me to make it.  Sure, I could have made it that night – but I wanted to find the right recipe.  I can make spaghetti and meatballs in my sleep – and I never use a recipe – but this time I wanted to try out someone else’s favorite – one that is consistent each time it is made – unlike mine which comes out differently each time I make it, depending on what I have in the house.  And for the most part, my meatballs never come with pasta – I mostly just serve them plain, with rice, or serve them on rolls.

So there it was, staring me in the face in Bon AppetitMolly Wizenberg’s favorite spaghetti and meatballs recipe.  It looked delicious – and then I read the recipe.  With a stick of butter in the sauce, how could it be bad?  Ok, yes, it might kill your arteries, but at least you will go happy.  I decided to cut down the butter (I used ½ stick), and leave everything else as is.  The final product was amazing.  The sauce was incredibly simple – and I didn’t have any complaints about the onions, because as far as the girls knew, there were none…  The meatballs, tender and delicious, in fact they almost melted in your mouth.  My daughter was in heaven, which was exactly what I was hoping for.  I’m so glad I was able to make her dream come true.


  • 2 28-ounce cans whole peeled tomatoes in juice, drained, juice reserved, tomatoes finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 2 medium onions, peeled, halved through root end
  • 1/2 teaspoon (or more) salt


  • 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs made from crustless French or country-style bread
  • 1/3 cup whole milk
  • 8 ounces ground beef (15% fat)
  • 8 ounces ground pork
  • 1 cup finely ground (not grated) Parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped Italian parsley
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 large garlic cloves, pressed
  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese (for serving)


For sauce:
Combine tomatoes with juice, butter, onions, and salt in large wide pot. Bring to simmer over medium heat. Reduce heat; simmer uncovered 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Discard onions. Using immersion blender, process sauce briefly to break up any large pieces of tomato (texture should be even but not completely smooth). Season sauce with more salt and freshly ground black pepper. Remove from heat.

For meatballs:
Combine breadcrumbs and milk in small bowl; stir until breadcrumbs are evenly moistened. Let stand 10 minutes.

Place beef and pork in large bowl and break up into small chunks. Add 1 cup ground Parmesan, parsley, salt, and pepper.

Whisk eggs to blend in small bowl; whisk in garlic. Add to meat mixture.

Using hands, squeeze milk from breadcrumbs, reserving milk. Add breadcrumbs to meat mixture. Using hands, quickly and gently mix meat mixture just until all ingredients are evenly combined (do not overmix). Chill mixture at least 15 minutes and up to 1 hour.

Moisten hands with some of reserved milk from breadcrumbs, then roll meat mixture between palms into golf-ball-size balls, occasionally moistening hands with milk as needed and arranging meatballs in single layer in sauce in pot. Bring to simmer.

Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until meatballs are cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes. DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 days ahead. Cool slightly. Chill uncovered until cold, then cover and keep chilled. Rewarm before continuing.

Cook spaghetti in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. Drain.

Using slotted spoon, transfer meatballs to platter. Add pasta to sauce in pot and toss to coat. Divide pasta among 6 plates. Top each serving with meatballs. Sprinkle meatballs with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and serve.

Serves 6

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Spaghetti and Meatballs

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