When my husband had a trip out of town, I knew the perfect meal that I could welcome him home with. You see, there are few things that my husband loves mores than my homemade spaghetti and meatballs. After years of trial and error in the kitchen, trying to make the perfect sauce, establishing what constituted the perfect meatballs, and then pulling it all together… I have created my own little perfect version of this Italian comfort food for our family. The meatballs are a delicious blend of Italian turkey sausage with the ground beef, filled with cheese, and a little mild tomato flavor from just a tiny bit of ketchup (a secret ingredient I discovered from the Food Network’s, Giada). Paired with a sauce bursting with fresh tomato flavors, it has been our favorite form of comfort food in our family. I have not met a kid or a person in my life who didn’t flip over this version, and I am excited to share it with you today!
Although you can simmer meatballs away in the sauce, I prefer to bake the meatballs on a cookie sheet to cut down the fat and to make a convenient double batch at one time. I then place the meatballs within the sauce, just until they are warm throughout, and then ladle the sauce over the pasta. Reserving half of the meatballs allows you to have another fun dinner like our Turkey Meatballs With Rotini Pasta or even meatball subs on homemade rolls, warmed under your broiler with a little mozzarella cheese.
I hope you can add this one to your menu plan one week, it is sure to be a hit!
Homemade Spaghetti & Meatballs
For Sauce (sauce recipe adapted from AllRecipes Dinner Tonight Cookbook):
3/4 cup chopped onion (we omitted because we don’t like onions)
5 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup olive oil
2 (28 ounce) cans whole peeled tomatoes, undrained
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon white sugar
1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
3/4 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
For Meatballs (this recipe will make enough for a double batch, half to eat and half to freeze):
1/2 cup plain bread crumbs
1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons whole milk
2 tablespoons ketchup
1 1/2 cups grated Romano (or Parmesan)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound Italian turkey sausages (remove the casings)
1 pound ground beef
To make sauce: Saute onion and garlic in 1/4 cup olive oil until onion is translucent. Stir in tomatoes, salt, and sugar. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer one hour and thirty minutes. Stir in tomato paste, basil, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and meatballs and simmer thirty more minutes. Gently break apart the tomatoes with the back of your wooden spoon. Five to ten minutes before serving, add in your meatballs and then serve over a big bowl of your favorite pasta.
To make meatballs: In a medium bowl, stir together the bread crumbs, parsley, eggs, milk, ketchup, Romano cheese, and the salt and pepper. Add the turkey & ground beef, then gently stir to combine. Make your meatballs the standard size and put them on a baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for ten to fifteen minutes. When done cooking, drop in the baked meatballs for a few minutes. This will be just as delicious with a lot less mess and fewer calories.
A Few Words About Homemade Breadcrumbs:
Although you can buy breadcrumbs at the store, making homemade breadcrumbs for your dishes is easy and inexpensive. We had a loaf of French Bread that wasn’t being eaten and I just cut the bread into chunks and gave it a whirl through the food processor. If your bread is not stale and needs a little more drying out, simply bake in a 300 degree F. oven for approximately 10 to 15 minutes; about halfway through, turn the bread over so it dries evenly. Remove from oven and let cool. Then put the bread in your food processor and give it a whirl until you have your delicious bread crumbs.
In a freezer-safe storage container, I slip these into the freezer until I need them for my recipes. Whenever your recipe calls for breadcrumbs, just take a fork and gently scrape the breadcrumbs to loosen them, measure, and add to any of your recipes. It is a great freezer staple that can be added to anytime you have a little leftover bread (or even those ends of a bread loaf) on hand in the kitchen.
Looking for more ideas on what to do with stale bread? Check out this post on how Day Old Bread Gets a Makeover… or Four and our Make Your Own Mixes article to save on those pantry staples!