Classic Spaghetti and Meatballs

Every week before going on my weekend trip to the grocery store, I’ll ask Jeff what he wants for dinner that week.  9 times out of 10 I get a general “whatever” or “I don’t care” sort of answer.  Every now and then, he’ll actually pipe up with a specific request, usually completely shocking me.

When I made my usual query last weekend, I got the response of “Spaghetti  and Meatballs.”  I have never once seen my husband eat spaghetti and meatballs so you can imagine my surprise at this request.

Who am I to come between a man and his food craving?  I was happy to comply.

This recipe is pretty basic and was scaled down for two.  It did end with a “Husband Stamp of Approval,” which is always my most favorite compliment and assurance that the recipe is a keeper.

Start by forming the meatball mixture.  Combine the shredded bread with the milk and mash-up with a fork.  Once formed into a smooth paste, add the meat loaf mixture, egg yolk, chopped basil, parmesan, garlic, salt and pepper.

Mix the meat ball mixture with your hands until uniform, then form into eight 1 1/2-inch balls.

If you aren’t able to find a pre-mixed “meat loaf mix” at your local grocery store, you can substitute with equal part 80% lean ground beef and sweet Italian sausage with the casings removed.

Heat 1/2 cup of vegetable oil in an 8-inch skillet over medium-high heat until just shimmering.  Add the meatballs and cook until well browned on all sides, about 8 minutes.

Transfer the meatballs to a paper towel-lined plate.  Discard the oil, leaving behind any browned bits.

To make the sauce, process the diced tomatoes with their juice in a food processor until smooth, about 10 seconds.  Add the olive oil and garlic to the skillet used for the meatballs and cook until the garlic is fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Stir in the processed tomatoes, bring to a simmer, and cook until the sauce has thickened slightly, about 5 to 8 minutes.

Add the meatballs into the sauce, bring to a simmer, cover, turning the meatballs occasionally.   Heat about 5 minutes, until the meatballs are heated through.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta until al dente.  Reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking water, then drain the pasta and return it to the pot.

Spoon some of the tomato sauce (without the meatballs) over the spaghetti and toss to coat, adjusting the sauce consistency with the reserved cooking water as desired.  Divide the pasta between two serving bowls, top with the meatballs and remaining sauce.

Sprinkle with the basil and serve with the grated Parmesan cheese.

Bon Appetit!



  • 1 slice white sandwich bread, crusts removed, torn into pieces
  • 3 tablespoons whole milk
  • 8 ounces meat loaf mix
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil

Sauce and Spaghetti

  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1/2 pound spaghetti
  • 1 tablespoon shredded fresh basil
  • Grated Parmesan Cheese
Serves 2

Original Recipe, America’s Test Kitchen, Cooking for Two 2009


Tags: , , ,

Categories: Meat, Pasta, Recipes

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2 Comments on “Classic Spaghetti and Meatballs”

  1. February 3, 2012 at 3:17 pm #

    Oh yes, this looks great. I blogged it myself a while a go and it has to be one of my favourite dishes ever. Great stuff!

    • February 5, 2014 at 8:43 pm #

      Hi Corrine I’m your mom’s Texas cousin and have had her mlelbatas and sauce tons of times! You are right .they are the absolute best. In fact, I still have her original hand-written recipe she wrote out for me on one of our Rhode Island trips when we were younger !! The paper it is written on is pretty worn, but I have kept it in a favorite cookbook for probably 25 years and would never re-write it. It is perfect just as it is. Your mom and I look more like sisters than cousins! Love your website and happy I found it. Your recipes sound delicious and I made the Butternut Squash Risotto. Big hit! Thank you! Hope to be in Rhode Island soon to visit my New England Branch of our family tree!! Hugs!

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