“I’m not a chef, I’m Italian”- David Rocco


Sunday, April 21, 2013

Spaghetti and Meatballs



Buongiorno!! If you come from an Italian American family, odds are you have had your fair share of Sunday night dinners. The family gathering in the kitchen…laughing, having a good time, maybe having a few sips of wine and cooking!! A classic Sunday night dinner is of course, Spaghetti and Meatballs. Every family has their own recipe and that is one of the things I love about certain recipes. Ever family has their own and that is what makes them so special.

I like the outside of my meatballs to get a little browned, but I know that that’s just me. We always have a debate in my household because my family prefers them softer, usually soaking in the tomato sauce. I myself like the exterior a bit crunchier. So I usually end up making two batches so I keep everyone happy and satisfied, that’s just my nature. My secret ingredient in my meatballs is…..wait for it…..ricotta!!! It makes them so light, tender, moist and delicious!! I love my recipe for meatballs; they are as perfect as meatballs can get, in my humble opinion. I obviously have to serve my meatballs with spaghetti and my classic tomato sauce.

Sweet little story about these meatballs…when I made these the other night for my family, as they were frying, the smell really reminded me of what I remember my Nonna Nettie’s Meatballs smelling like. I thought maybe it was just wishful thinking…but then I made a little test meatball (which I always do and highly suggest!) and gave it to my mom to try. She said “wow, these taste like grandmas.” To have my mother say that my meatballs, which I still remember my grandma frying specially for me over the weekend, is the absolute best compliment I could ever get about my cooking.

So try this recipe and let me know how it compares to yours!!

Spaghetti and Meatballs


Tomato Sauce

¼ extra virgin olive oil
1 clove of garlic, minced
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. pepper
½ tsp. red pepper
2 large cans of San Marzano tomatoes
Handful of fresh basil, chopped

Prepare a medium size pot over medium heat. Add your olive oil and minced garlic. Allow the garlic to soften, but not brown. Add your salt, pepper and red pepper. Add your tomatoes and cook them down a little. Add a handful of the basil. Cook for 30 minutes covered on low heat, occasionally stirring.  You can start the meatballs now…

Spaghetti and Meatballs

1 pound of ground beef
1 cup of whole wheat bread crumbs
¼ cup parmigiana, grated
¼ ricotta
Handful of fresh parsley, chopped
Handful of fresh basil, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 large egg
1 tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper
½ cup olive oil

1 box of whole grain spaghetti
1 tbsp. salt, for the pasta water

Crumble the beef in a mixing bowl. Add the breadcrumbs, parmigiana, ricotta, parsley, basil and garlic. Beat the egg with 1 tsp. salt and ¼ tsp. pepper in a small bowl. Pour this over the meat. Mix the ingredients with cleans hands just until blended. DO NOT OVER MIX!! If you over mix, you will get really hard, tough meatballs. We don’t want that!! Shape the meatballs in balls. You can make them as big or small as you like, but make them roughly the same size so they cook at the same speed. Heat your olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Put the meatballs in the skillet and fry. Turn them when they are golden brown, around 10 minutes. Cook them for around 20 minutes. As I said, I prefer my meatballs well done. 

Start salted boiling water in a large pot over high heat. Pour in half of the tomato sauce over the meatballs. Cook for an additional 30 minutes in the sauce as the water boils. You will want to cook the meatballs until there is no pink in the center.

Once the water is boiling, add the spaghetti and stir. Once it is al dente, strain the pasta and add to the remaining tomato sauce. Serve a portion of the pasta with the meatballs and sauce over it. Buon Appetito!!