Spaghetti and Meatballs with Tomato Sauce
Serves 4 to 6
This is the recipe for my favorite spaghetti and meatballs. The meatballs are easy, moist and delicious. It is the same recipe I use to make meatballs without the pasta. You can make them any size desired, but I prefer them smaller than most. The recipe can easily be halved or doubled. It makes more meatballs than you need for one pound of pasta, but leftovers can be frozen for up to six months and make great sandwiches. See the similar and related leftovers link for a recipe.
- 2 slices home-style or rustic bread
- 1/4 cup milk
- 2 pounds lean ground beef
- 2 large eggs
- 4 large garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 2 tablespoons dried parsley
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Olive oil for frying
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 6 large cloves garlic, minced (more or less to taste)
- 4 cans (14.5-ounces each) whole tomatoes, finely crushed with fingers, with juices
- 1/2 cup red wine
- 1 tablespoon dried basil leaves
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano leaves
- 1 teaspoon dried rosemary leaves
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
- 2 tablespoons dried parsley leaves
- 2 tablespoons each freshly chopped basil and parsley (optional)
- 1 pound spaghetti, perciatelli, or a tubular pasta
- Freshly grated Parmesan and/or Romano cheese
For the meatballs, soak the bread slices in the milk. Squeeze out the excess milk and reserve. Crumble the bread into coarse pieces. Mix the ground beef with the bread, reserved milk, and remaining ingredients except the olive oil. Combine well with hands. Form into 1-inch balls. Heat a large fry pan or sauté pan, large enough to hold the meatballs and sauce, over medium-high heat. Add enough olive oil to lightly coat the bottom. When hot, add meatballs in batches and fry until browned on all sides, adding more oil as needed. Remove from pan and set aside.
Remove all but 1/4 cup oil from the pan, or add more olive oil if needed. Add onions and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and sauté for one more minute. Add the wine and stir, scraping up any browned bits in the bottom of the pan. Return meatballs to pan with any accumulated juices. Add tomatoes and seasonings. Reduce heat to medium-low and partially cover pan, leaving a little space for steam to escape. Simmer until sauce has thickened and meatballs are thoroughly cooked, about 60 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking and adjusting heat as needed. Remove the lid if a thicker sauce is desired.
Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions for al dente. Remove meatballs from sauce and place on a serving plate. Add hot pasta to sauce and toss well for a couple minutes. Serve immediately, passing the meatballs and grated cheese separately.
Notes: Meatballs can be made ahead, browned and refrigerated for up to three days or frozen for several months until needed. Add to the sauce and proceed as directed.