Spaghetti and Meatballs is an Italian American classic, and I probably don't need to extol its virtues - but I will just a bit. When it comes to comfort food, spaghetti and meatballs has got to be near the top of the list. For me, it brings me simultaneously to my mother’s kitchen table, to the tiny little Italian restaurant I used to go to in college, and even to some of the fine dining restaurants I’ve been too over the years.
There are so many ways to make spaghetti and meatballs, you can easily create your own version or even cook different versions every night of the week. I make what I think is a great basic tomato sauce, and great Italian meatballs, the links to those recipes are below. Here, I talk about a few of the key things you need to do to combine them into a great spaghetti and meatballs.
Recipe Overview and Keys to Success
- First, let’s talk about pasta. When I have time, I make my own pasta for my spaghetti and meatballs. I like to make pasta, and I think it tastes better than what I buy in the store. That said, I have nothing against store bought pasta, and probably end up using it more than 50% of the time because it’s quick and easy. Most important; cook the pasta right (as I describe below) because over cooked pasta is bad.
- Second, decide if you are a mixer or not. There is two schools of thought. School one is pasta and sauce are combined in the pot and blended together. I’m a school one guy, and what I demonstrate in this recipe video, is to combine the tomato sauce with the cooked pasta while it’s still on the stove top. This method allows the spaghetti to soak up some of the sauce, and the starch from the pasta thickens up the sauce. The other option is to plate the pasta and spoon the sauce of the top. School two, has you serve the sauce ladled over the pasta. I like the visual appeal of this method a lot, but I like the taste less.
- Finally, I always finish my spaghetti and meatballs, with a few glugs of fresh olive oil and sprinkle of parmesan cheese. The cheese simply adds some great flavor. The oil, brightens up the dish a bit and gives it a nice flavor as well
Pasta sauce & meatballs
- Here is my recipe for a basic tomato sauce. You can make this in advance and freeze it, or make it fresh.
- I’d also encourage you to play with the spaghetti sauce a little bit to make it your own. You may want to add heat with pepper flakes or hot sauce, more vegetables, herbs or meats
- Here is my recipe for Italian meatballs. Again, after you make them a couple times, I’d encourage to play with the recipe to put your own spin on it. Again, they freeze well and I always make large batches and store them in the freeze.
- Cook your pasta a lot of water. You don’t want the pot crowded or the pasta may stick
- Salt your water with a couple tablespoons of salt per quart of water
- Stir the pasta after dropping it into the pot, and every few minutes after that. Stirring makes sure the heat is distributed and the pasta doesn’t stick
- If you’re finishing the pasta in the sauce, I like to take it out of the water about a minute before the package suggests. That way I can finish it to the perfect al dente
- Don’t let the pasta wait for the sauce. Try to time things so that once your pasta is done, your sauce is ready to go, as pasta doesn’t get any better sitting around waiting to be eaten
- As I said, I always mix my pasta with the sauce
- Drain the pasta well and shake out the excess water and then dump it right into your hot sauce
- Use some tongs to combine and make sure everything is coated
- Turn off the heat, and then add a few tablespoons of fresh olive oil and a parmesan cheese, again use the tongs to combine
- Serve it nice and high in a pasta bowl, and garnish with a bit more cheese
Hope you enjoy!! Let me know how it goes.