If there was ever a dish that can conjure up good memories or make you feel so happy after eating, it is pasta and meatballs. Maybe it is all of the movies that show off this dish or knowing it is a dish that is the essence of homemade goodness. Perhaps it is that dish that you grew up with where the amazing smells of it cooking all day long emanated from the kitchen. Whatever the reason, this is a dish that can bring smiles!
I have tried many different recipes for meatballs over the years from cooking the meatballs in the sauce, to browning them in a pan first then adding them to the sauce….. You get the point 🙂 These methods have all been very good but I wanted something that was a little easier and still tasted amazing.
I like to cook my meatballs in the oven first then add them to the sauce later. I add olive oil to the meatballs before they cook to help them get that nice crust that pan frying them first gives. This dish is sort of a hybrid of all the ways I have learned to make meatballs and sauce. The flavor of the meatballs and the sauce cooked this way is amazing. I even threw in my favorite Italian restaurant’s trick to this one as well with the touch of butter at the end (though this is totally optional).
I hope you give these a try and see for yourself why I love it so much!
Italian Meatballs with Pasta
- 2 lbs of lean ground beef
- 1/2 cup of milk
- 1 1/2 cups of dried bread crumbs preferably panko
- 2 eggs lightly beaten
- 1/2 cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese plus more for the table later
- 2 tbsp of finely chopped parsley
- 2 tbsp of finely chipped fresh basil
- 3 cloves minced garlic
- 1 tbsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tbsp freshly ground black pepper
- 2 cloves of garlic minced
- 1/4 tsp of crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 small yellow onion spanish finely chopped
- 2 28 oz cans of whole San Marzano tomatoes
- 1 tbsp of butter
- 4 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil best quality you can find
- 1 tsp of salt and pepper and more to taste
- 1 tbsp fresh chopped basil
- 1 tbsp dried oregano
- 1 tbsp salt
- 1 box of spaghetti you can use a whole box of ziti, penne or rigatoni as a substitute
- Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
- In a large bowl combine your dried breadcrumbs and milk and let sit for a couple minutes to let the bread crumbs absorb the milk
- Next add 3 cloves of minced garlic, 2 tbsp of chopped basil, 2 tbsp of chopped parsley and 1/2 cup of freshly grated Parmesan and mix well.
- Now, take in the amazing scent!
- Next add your ground beef and beaten eggs along with 1 tsp of salt and pepper
- With your hands gently work all of the ingredients together.
- Grab a large sheet pan (or oven proof heavy bottom pan) and place next to your bowl.
- Start grabbing your meatball mixture and gently roll your meatballs into round balls about the size of a small scoop of ice cream and place on your sheet pan.
- Repeat this until all the meatballs are made.
- Once all the meatballs are on the sheet pan, drizzle them all with a little olive oil which will help them get that nice outer crust when cooking.
- Bake for about 30-40 minutes or until the meatballs are nicely browned and crisp.
- In a large pot over medium heat, add your olive oil, red pepper flakes, onions and garlic and cook for about 4-5 minutes or until the onions begin to soften.
- Now add your canned whole tomatoes and with a potato masher or with a large spoon, begin gently pressing down on the whole tomatoes so they begin to break apart.
- Next, add 1 tbsp of fresh basil, 1 tbsp of salt and 1 tbsp of dried oregano and stir well.
- Cover with a tight fitting lid and turn down heat down to low and allow to gently simmer for at least one hour.
- Once your meatballs are fully cooked, with a flat spatula carefully begin removing them from the sheet pan and adding them into the pot of red sauce.
- Make sure you coat all the meatballs with the sauce.
- Now go ahead and add your tbsp of butter and gently mix that into the sauce.
- Cook for another 20 minutes. Taste for seasoning and see if it needs any salt.
- For spaghetti:
- Bring a large pot of water to boil on the stove.
- When the water is boiling salt it well and follow the instructions on the box of pasta for cooking to al dente.
- Once the pasta if cooked drain the pasta and place it back into the pot.
- Add 1 ladle of the red sauce to the pasta and mix well to prevent it from sticking to itself.
- You can plate this family style by placing your pasta in a large platter style bowl and scooping out the meatballs over top and then pour your sauce right over that.
- Serve with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and enjoy!