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Easy Spaghetti and Meatballs

Storage tip: You can prepare the meatballs up to 2 months in advance. After forming the raw meatballs, place them on a baking sheet or other pan and freeze thoroughly, about 2 hours. Transfer to an airtight container. Before using, defrost the meatballs in the refrigerator overnight.

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup cubed day-old, coarse country bread, crusts removed
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 small yellow onion, shredded
  • 2 Tbs. minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tsp. minced fresh thyme
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 1 tsp. plus 2 Tbs. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • Olive oil for frying
  • 2 1/2 cups tomato-basil sauce, homemade (see related recipe at left) or purchased
  • 1 lb. spaghetti

Directions:

Prepare the meatballs
In a small bowl, combine the bread cubes and milk. Let stand about 3 minutes, then squeeze the bread dry, discarding the milk.

In a large bowl, combine the softened bread, ground beef, onion, parsley, thyme, egg, 1/4 cup of the cheese, the 1 tsp. salt and the pepper. Mix gently with your hands. Form into balls about 1 inch in diameter.

Cook the meatballs
In a large fry pan over medium heat, pour oil to a depth of 1/2 inch. When the oil is hot, add the meatballs, in batches if necessary, and cook, turning occasionally, until browned on all sides, about 12 minutes. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels to drain.

Discard the oil and place the pan over medium-low heat. Pour the tomato-basil sauce into the pan, stirring and scraping up any browned bits. Add the meatballs to the sauce and cook, covered, until heated through, about 15 minutes.

Cook the pasta
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add the 2 Tbs. salt and the pasta to the boiling water. Cook, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking, until al dente, according to the package instructions. Drain and add the pasta to the sauce. Gently toss to combine.

Transfer the spaghetti and meatballs to a large bowl and serve. Pass the remaining 1/2 cup cheese at the table. Serves 6.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Food Made Fast Series, Pasta, by Julia della Croce (Oxmoor House, 2006).