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Spaghetti and Meatballs Recipe

The recipe of the spaghetti and meatballs is one of the most loved in the US.

Although spaghetti and meatballs is not an Italian recipe for the reasons discussed here, it can surely be considered heritage of an Italian culture (and in the South of Italy you can still find someone who makes spaghetti and meatballs but it’s certainly not a typical Italian dish). For me they’ve been a real discovery when I started traveling years and years ago and, despite the certainty, it’s not something I would cook at home, I’ve had the pleasure to make them for American friends a few time.

The recipe is really basic and the ingredients are very well linked to Italy and its flavors but of course the American touch is very tangible. What you can spot are the portions and the mix of a first and second course we Italians have rarely since for us meat is a second course and pasta is a first one.

Ingredients for 6 portions

    For the meatballs

    • 1 pound ground beef
    • 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
    • 1 tablespoon dried parsley
    • 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
    • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
    • ¹/8 teaspoon garlic powder

    For the tomato sauce

    • 3/4 cup chopped onion
    • 5 cloves garlic
    • ¼ cup olive oil
    • 28 ounces peeled tomatoes
    • 2 teaspoons salt
    • 1 teaspoon white sugar
    • 1 bay leaf
    • 6 ounces of tomato paste
    • 3/4 teaspoon dried basil
    • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
    • 1 egg beaten


    1. Prepare the meatballs combining all the ingredients and mixing well then from the dough form quite big balls (you’ll get about 10-11 big meatballs). Put the meatballs in the fridge.
    2. Make the sauce sautéing the onion and the garlic in olive oil. Stir in tomatoes, salt, sugar and bay leaf. Cover, reduce heat to low, and let it simmer for about 90 minutes. Add the tomato paste, basil, pepper and meatballs and let it cook for 30 minutes more.
    3. Cook your spaghetti following the instructions on the pack, drain them serve the meatballs over spaghetti without stirring.


    Preparation time: 30 minutes

    Cooking time: 2.1 hours

    Total time: 2.6 hours

    How to cook your spaghetti perfectly step by step

    1. Use a large pot
    2. Fill the the pot with lots of water to submerge your spaghetti
    3. Bring the water to boil
    4. Add salt before adding pasta
    5. Once having added pasta, stir it often to avoid your pasta from clumping
    6. Even if the pack suggests the amount of time your pasta has to cook, just taste it a few minutes before the given time to make sure it’s really “al dente”
    7. Drain you pasta saving a scoop of its water in case your sauce is too tick.

    Do you need more info on how to cook pasta perfectly? Click here and if you’re wondering which dishes are not Italian at all despite the common beliefs just have a look at this article and the following video:

    Ina Gartner is one of the many people who consider spaghetti and meatballs a serious thing so check her recipe if you want to have a proper US experience.

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    About the author
    Veruska Anconitano
    Veruska works as SEO Manager and Localization Project Manager She's an accredited journalist, a member of the British Guild of Travel Writer, and a certified sommelier. She's the co-owner of TheFoodellers and a bunch of other websites.
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