Spaghetti and meatballs, a dish that we all must have had growing up. Whether yours was home cooked or bought in a can like “Chef Boyardi”, it was a childhood favorite for most. I was in both worlds for this one. I had the cans when I was a lot younger but later on I got the homecooked version. Next thing I know I was making my own, stuffing the balls with Baby bel cheese, etc. Although Italy may come to mind when thinking of this dish, it actually originated in the US. Italian immigrants came to the US from 1880 and afterword, when they started to become well off here, they were able to buy more meat and make bigger meatballs than the ones made in Italy. The tomato sauce and meatball combo came into play since canned tomatoes were very cheap in the 19th century. Over time the idea came to add spaghetti to the marinara sauce with meatballs (In Italy, meatballs were eaten alone or with soup), especially since Americans were fans of eating starch with their meals. The dish became an international hit, which you can find almost anywhere now.
I personally prefer to use 80:20 beef for my meatballs. The ratio “80:20” means that it is 80 percent lean and 20 percent fat. If your meatballs are too little in fat the meat can have a dry texture. I have made meatballs with chicken and turkey before in the past, they usually have a more firm texture and can still be made just as delicious as beef. I season my ground beef with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and dried oregano before shaping them into balls. There has been (and still is) long debate on whether to sear the meatballs or to just simmer them in the marinara. I personally sear them, then simmer them. I think it gives a better texture and more uniform shape.
|Ground Beef||1 lb|
|Parmesan Cheese (powdered)||1/4 cup|
|Mozzarella Cheese (shredded)||1/4 cup|
|Spaghetti (I used whole wheat)||1 lb|
|Marinara Sauce||24 oz|
|Dried Oregano||1 TSP|
|Garlic Powder||1 TBSP|
|Pine Nuts||1 TBSP|
|Olive Oil||2 TBSP|
- Boil the pasta according to manufacturer instructions.
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- In a large bowl combine the ground beef, egg, salt, pepper, garlic powder, dried oregano and breadcrumbs. After the ingredients are combined you should be able to make about 15-16 balls of the same size.
- In a pot, add the olive oil and bring to medium high heat. Sear the meatballs in batches (don’t overcrowd the pot) and place them in an oven safe bowl. Each batch should take about 5 minutes.
- After all the meatballs are in the oven safe bowl, pour your choice of tomato sauce over them and mix so that they are all coated. Sprinkle on the pine nuts and then bake for 10-15 minutes or until they have reached an internal temperature of 160F.
- Place the pasta in a plate or bowl with a delicious scoop of meatballs and sauce on top, then sprinkle on some shredded mozzarella for each plate.
- You can shape your meatballs ahead of time and keep them refrigerated to save time on cooking day.
- You can cook your pasta ahead of time and put it in a bowl, then toss with a little bit of olive oil so it does not stick to each other.
To be honest, the picture used in today’s blog is pretty old. But the reason I chose to use this photo and recipe today is because I realized that I added pine nuts on a hunch. I had a feeling that if I baked it with the meatballs it would develop a nice roasted nut flavor that would pair well with the parmesan, and it did. In this recipe I also used a premade marinara sauce, but you could also make your own by simmering canned Tomatoes with onions and herbs then using an immersion blender (which I don’t have) to make it smooth. I highly recommend using an organic tomato sauce, there are so many flavor options you could try as well like Tomato and Basil, Blush sauce (which includes vodka), Three cheese marinara etc. Also in this old picture I realized that I used whole wheat fettucine instead of actual spaghetti, but hey we got to use what we have on hand. In the intro I noted that you could stuff the meatballs with cheese and when you break into the meatball and see that melted goodness, you won’t regret the extra step. I used to coat the pasta in tomato sauce and the meatballs as well, but now I prefer to keep the pasta naked and only coat the meatballs, to each their own though.
That is all I have for today’s blog, if you love making spaghetti and meatballs, leave a comment on how you make yours or if you make your own sauce or buy it.
Have a blessed day everyone and thanks for reading.