Real Deal Meatballs and Spaghetti (and another tomato sauce)

real deal meatballs/prep

I’ve been on the subject of comforting foods a lot lately and this recipe is one of my all-time favorite comfort foods. When I was a young girl, nothing made me happier than to know that my mother was preparing meatballs and spaghetti for dinner and it is still one of my most favorite meals, of which I have the fondest of memories. I hope you like my recipe and are not put off by the amount of ingredients required. I promise you it’s worth it. The sauce and meatballs are perfect for freezing and I usually make enough for at least one extra meal. This tomato sauce has onions and a few different ingredients from my other tomato sauce. This is one suggestions for these meatballs but you can use any sauce that you like. The last time I made these meatballs I actually used the Dreamy Creamy Vodka Sauce. Enjoy!


Spaghetti (any type you like) cooked according to directions on package

Freshly grated parmesan


1/2 lb. ground veal

1/2 lb. ground pork

1 lb. ground beef

1 cup fresh bread crumbs (I never cheat on this one. I use 4 slices–5 for thinner bread–of whole wheat bread and make the crumbs in a food processor with a steel blade. It’s fast and easy but you can use whatever you have in the house.)

1/4 cup seasoned dry bread crumbs (Italian style)

1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese (you can cheat here, if you must)

1 tsp kosher salt

1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

2 tbsp fresh, flat-leaf parsley, chopped

1 extra large egg, beaten (start with a room temp egg)


1 tbsp olive oil

1 cup  (one medium) yellow onion, chopped

1 1/2 tsp garlic, minced

1 cup red wine

2 28 oz cans of crushed tomatoes (or you can puree chopped plum tomatoes)

1 tbsp fresh, flat-leaf parsley, chopped (this is optional but it adds delicious flavor)

1 1/4 tsp kosher salt (taste to check if you need more than this)

1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1 small can tomato paste

1 tsp oregano

1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (use at your own discretion)


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Place the ground meats, both types of bread crumbs, parmesan, parsley, salt, pepper, nutmeg, egg and 3/4 cup warm water in a large bowl. Combine all ingredients with a fork. Next, I use my washed hands and lightly form the mixture into small (2 inch) meatballs. You should have about 20-25 meatballs. I don’t fry my balls; I bake them at400 degrees for approx. 30 – 40 minutes on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. If you prefer to fry the balls, use a combination of vegetable and olive oils. (This is up to you.) The meatballs will continue to cook in the sauce so don’t worry if they are not fully cooked through as well as they should be at first.

Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan. Add the onion and saute over medium heat until onions are translucent. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the wine and while cooking sauce on high heat, deglaze the pan by scraping up from the bottom with a wooden spoon. Do this until almost all of the liquid evaporates. Stir in the tomatoes, parsley, salt, oregano, pepper, parsley, crushed red pepper, and tomato paste. Let it cook for approx. 1 hour. If sauce is too thick, add a little water at a time until you get to the consistency you like. Return the meatballs to the sauce, cover and simmer on the lowest possible heat for about another 1/2 hour, until the meatballs are immersed in the sauce and cooked through. Serve hot on cooked spaghetti with freshly grated parmesan cheese. I plate individually so I can freeze left over sauce with meatballs for another meal.