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LivingFood and DrinkReal Meatballs and Spaghetti

Real Meatballs and Spaghetti

[Susan Hanna]

real meatballs and spaghetti

Everyone should have a good spaghetti and meatballs recipe in their arsenal, and this one from the Barefoot Contessa is a classic. The meatballs, which contain three kinds of meat, are simmered in a savoury tomato sauce. Serve on top of cooked spaghetti and sprinkle with lots of Parmesan cheese. This recipe takes a little time to prepare, but your family and friends will love it!

 Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

White bread, bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, nutmeg, red wine and canned tomatoes may contain preservatives, colour or sulfites. The bread and bread crumbs should contain only natural ingredients. I used a wedge of President’s Choice Parmesan cheese and red wine from Frogpond Farm that had no sulfites added. Buy whole nutmeg and grate it on a microplane grater – it will taste much fresher than pre-ground nutmeg, which can include anti-caking chemicals. I use Unico canned tomatoes, which contain only tomatoes and salt. For more recipes using all-natural ingredients, visit


 For the meatballs:

  • ½ pound (250 g) ground veal
  • ½ pound (250 g) ground pork
  • 1 pound (500 g) ground beef
  • 1 cup (250 ml) fresh white bread crumbs (4 slices, crusts removed)
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) seasoned dry bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • ½ cup (125 ml) freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon (2 ml) freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon (1 ml) ground nutmeg
  • 1 extra-large egg, beaten Vegetable oil Olive oil

For the sauce:

  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) good olive oil
  • 1 cup (250 ml) chopped yellow onion (1 onion)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons (7 ml) minced garlic
  • ½ cup (125 ml) good red wine, such as Chianti
  • 1 28-ounce can (828 ml) crushed tomatoes, or plum tomatoes in puree, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 ½ teaspoons (7 ml) kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon (2 ml) freshly ground black pepper

For serving:

  • 1 ½ pounds (675 g) spaghetti, cooked according to package directions Freshly grated Parmesan cheese


Place the ground meats, both bread crumbs, parsley, Parmesan, salt, pepper, nutmeg, egg, and ¾ cup (175 ml) warm water in a bowl. Combine very lightly with a fork. Using your hands, lightly form the mixture into 2-inch (5 cm) meatballs. You will have 14 to 16 meatballs. Pour equal amounts of vegetable oil and olive oil into a large (12-inch/30.5 cm) skillet to a depth of ¼ inch (0.6 cm). Heat the oil. Very carefully, in batches, place the meatballs in the oil and brown them well on all sides over medium-low heat, turning carefully with a spatula or a fork. This should take about 10 minutes for each batch. Don’t crowd the meatballs.

Remove the meatballs to a plate covered with paper towels. Discard the oil but don’t clean the pan. For the sauce, heat the olive oil in the same pan. Add the onion and sauté over medium heat until translucent, 5 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the wine and cook on high heat, scraping up all the brown bits in the pan, until almost all the liquid evaporates, about 3 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, parsley, salt, and pepper. Return the meatballs to the sauce, cover, and simmer on the lowest heat for 25 to 30 minutes, until the meatballs are cooked through. Serve hot on cooked spaghetti and pass the grated Parmesan cheese. Serves 6.

From Family Style by The Barefoot Contessa




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