Make Authentic Italian Spaghetti and Meatballs
The key to making delicious, authentic Italian spaghetti and meatballs is using fresh, high-quality ingredients while following simple, time-tested techniques. Unlike many recipes that call for using bottled sauces and heavy seasonings, this one walks you through crafting a rich, complex pasta dish that is sure to delight even the most discerning palates.
1 lb. spaghetti noodles, enough to serve 2-3 adults
1.5 tablespoon (tbsp.) extra virgin olive oil
1 whole onion, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 16 oz. can crushed tomatoes (plum tomatoes are ideal) OR a 16 oz. can of tomato paste (if you prefer a smoother sauce)
1/4 cup red wine (cook’s choice)
1 fresh basil leaf, chopped
1/8 teaspoon (tsp.) red pepper flakes
1/8 tsp. dried oregano
1/4 cup seasoned bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/8 cup cold water
1 lb. ground beef
Salt and pepper to taste
2 large eggs
Start by making the tomato sauce. Preheat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat until the oil begins shimmering but not smoking, then add the chopped onions. When the onions become translucent, put in the garlic and stir it occasionally for a minute or two until it is browned. Dump in the crushed tomatoes or tomato paste, wine, basil, oregano, red pepper flakes salt and pepper.
Reduce the heat and let the sauce simmer while stirring it at regular intervals. Leaving the sauce on the stove until its volume is reduced by half produces the best flavor, but the simmering time can be cut to as little as 5 minutes if you are in a rush.
To form the meatballs, mix the water, cheese and breadcrumbs into a dough-like paste. Next, break up and spread out the ground beef by hand, then sprinkle on salt and pepper. Spread the paste across the meat and crack open the eggs on top of the paste. Knead everything together, then break off chunks and form them into balls of the size you desire.
Brown the meatballs in a clean saucepan coated with olive oil. When all sides of each ball are browned, pour in enough of the tomato sauce to cover the bottom of the pan and roll the meatballs in the sauce until each is fully coated. Reduce the heat to low and let the sauce-covered balls cook all the way through for 10 to 15 minutes.
Last, bring 4 quarts of salted water to a rolling boil. Add the pasta and let it cook for the time indicated on the box or bag. Reduce that cooking time by a minute or two if you like your noodles al dente.
When the spaghetti is finished cooking, drain the noodles and toss them with the sauce in a large serving bowl. Ladle the spaghetti and meatballs onto a concave pasta dish along with additional sauce and garnish it all with black pepper and Italian parsley. Make sure to serve the spaghetti and meatballs hot, ideally with a glass of red wine and warm rustic bread.
One of the best things about Italian cooking is that almost any dish can be made more interesting by doing just a bit of experimenting. Substitute a half pound of spicy Italian sausage for an equal amount of ground beef and increase the amount of red pepper flakes to increase the heat. For a sweeter flavor, add half a tablespoon of brown sugar to the onions to caramelize them as they cook down.