Lick the Bowl Spaghetti and Meatballs

I’ve been out of the kitchen all week, but this is a spectacular return.  I mean really, on a scale of one to ten this is a seventeen.  After a bunch of yard work and laundry, and with a cool evening on the way, I felt like something a little hardy for dinner. Growing up we always had spaghetti with meat sauce, but never meatballs so I’ve never made meatballs before. As many of you know, the first time I make something I try to use the most authentic recipe I can. You don’t get any more authentic than Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan. Her recipes are pure joy: the best ingredients and very clear instructions. I used Mrs. Hazan’s meatball recipe with only three alterations. I used a roasted garlic bread instead of plain white.  I think that added a little something. Then, in an attempt to reduce the fat I used half ground chuck and half ground turkey. Also, instead of frying the meatballs in oil I broiled them. I don’t think they suffered at all.

I also chose a sauce from Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking – Tomato Sauce with Onion and Butter. This is the easiest sauce you will ever make. Guaranteed. Clearly the better your tomatoes, the better your sauce. I used tomatoes canned from my garden last year. Mrs. Hazan allows for either fresh or canned tomatoes.

I made a double recipe of the meatballs because if I’m going to bother I may as well have plenty for another occasion or two. I ended up with 36 meatballs about 2 inches each. I broiled them all, but only simmered 12 for dinner (and leftovers) and that was the right amount for the amount of sauce. The remaining 24 will go into freezer bags as soon as they’re completely cool. They’ll make for an easy dinner party some other day.  Note that the recipe below is in the original amounts.  It’s just as easy to make twice as much.

You’re probably used to meatballs served with a thick, almost paste-like sauce.  That’s okay for sandwiches I suppose, but often you can’t really taste the meatballs.    This sauce is light enough that you really taste the yumminess of the meatballs and robust enough that you can’t imagine any other sauce.  Serve this with a crusty bread. The sauce is thin, but really, really worth sopping up. I came close to drinking it out of the bottom of the bowl. (Ok, so I actually did drink it out of the bottom of the bowl).

Good? Good doesn’t begin to cover it.
Easy? It’s not complicated, but it does take time. Totally worth it.
Good for company? YES. But make sure they’re good friends. You may end up slurping.
Special shopping? Nope.



1 slice good quality white bread, crust removed
1/3 C milk
1/2 lb ground chuck
1/2 lb ground turkey
1 T onion, finely chopped
1 T fresh parsley, chopped
1 egg
1 T olive oil
3 T grated parmesan
1/8 t freshly grated nutmeg
Salt and black pepper


Heat the bread and milk in a small sauce pan. When the milk is absorbed removed from heat and mash the bread into a pulp. Cool completely.

In a bowl add remaining ingredients and milk mush. Fold ingredients together and mix gently until combined. Do not squeeze the mixture as that will make the meatballs dense and tough.

Gently shape mixture into 2 inch balls. Again, no squeezing!

Spray a pan with cooking spray and arrange meatballs in a single layer. Broil 15 minutes. Add to tomato sauce and simmer 15 more minutes. Ladle meatballs and sauce over spaghetti.

Tomato Sauce with Onion and Butter


2 C canned tomatoes with the juice
5 T butter
1 onion, peeled and cut in half
Salt to taste


Add all ingredients to a sauce pan. Cook uncovered at a slow, steady simmer for 45 minutes stirring occasionally. Use the back of your spoon to mash any large pieces of tomato. Discard the onion before adding the meatballs.


3 Responses to “Lick the Bowl Spaghetti and Meatballs”

  1. Stephanie Says:

    ah, i can taste the yumminess from here!!

  2. Laura Says:

    I just made the meatballs and I am getting ready to put them in the oven. I am skeptical of the nutmeg and the lack of salt, but I am exited to see how they turn out. Thanks for the inspiration.

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