Simple and Delicious: Spaghetti and Meatballs

by Alice Currah on March 10, 2009. Updated January 10, 2010


Once again I was faced with the perpetual dilemma of what to make for dinner tonight. I had in my refrigerator an onion, garlic, parsley, and ground beef. My pantry was even more pathetic, but at least I had a can of diced tomatoes and a box of dried spaghetti noodles. So spaghetti it would have to be. I confess… I don’t really like spaghetti or any other red sauce pasta for that matter. The primary reasons are:

1. Growing up in a family of 6 kids we ate a lot of Ragu spaghetti from a jar.
2. After the birth of all three of my children people often brought over meals, 99% of them some type of red sauce pasta.
3. Many years back, a few of my friends and I tried group cooking for a months’ worth of meals. This was a bad idea. Very bad. I ended up coming home with 20 different types of red sauce pasta meals, all but 2 went into the trash. And for the record, I contributed none of them.

I suppose I would enjoy spaghetti more if jarred sauce didn’t taste like glorified ketchup. Using some olive oil, sauteed onions, garlic, and a can of diced tomatoes I was able to make a lighter than your store bought sauce and the end result was wonderful. It is so simple yet so delicious. Even though its not obvious by the picture, adding a lot of parsley added a wonderful earthy flavor and balanced everything out. So don’t skimp out on the parsley! Enjoy.


* 1 pound ground beef
* 1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
* 5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
* 2 tbs. olive oil
* ½ cup of bread crumbs
* ½ cup of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
* 2 large eggs
* ½ tsp of oregano
* ½ tsp of basil
* 1 ½ tsp of salt


Cook onions and garlic in olive oil over medium heat until softened, about 5 minutes stirring occasionally.

Preheat oven to 400°.

In a large bowl, add the onion/garlic mixture and all the other ingredients. Incorporate everything by hand until well mixed. Firmly form 2”meatballs by hand.

Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper.


Heat olive oil in a skillet on medium-high heat. Brown meatballs and place on baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes in the oven.

Tomato Sauce

Prepare Tomato sauce while meatballs are baking:

* 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
* 1 medium onions, finely chopped
* 6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
* 1 tbs. of basil
* 1 tsp of salt
* 1 tsp black pepper
* 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
* 1 cup of finely chopped parsley.


Cook onions and garlic in oil in a pot over medium heat until softened, about 5 minutes stirring occasionally. Stir in tomatoes with juice reserved in a separate bowl. Simmer sauce, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened for 10 minutes. Add salt, pepper, oregano, basil, and half of the reserved liquid until sauce reduces for 5 minutes. *Add parsley at the end for garnish.

Putting it all together:

Cook a 1 lb box of spaghetti to al dente, drain, and plate it. Place a few spoonfuls of sauce on top of the noodles followed by a couple tablespoons of parsley and grated cheese. Place a meatball on top and serve.

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Cucinista April 7, 2009 at 4:14 pm

Yum! I love the idea of baking the meatballs. Maybe mine won’t fall apart now!


Cari Snell July 16, 2009 at 4:45 pm

This one’s a keeper! Yum! Yum! We’re going to feature Alice’ Spaghetti and Meatballs on next week’s Thanks Alice!


Liz J December 8, 2009 at 7:27 pm

I am about to mail this recipe to my sister and friends. These meatballs are the best I have ever made! (my husband agrees) ……. thanks to you! I have found that I can make a very simple sauce of crushed tomatoes, a bit of garlic, and basil, and these awesome meatballs just add so much flavor to the sauce, it’s amazing. I pan browned the meatballs in a cast iron skillet, and cooked them in the sauce for a couple hours on low (instead of the oven). I have “shredded” all of my other meatball recipes and will never, ever, make any recipe but this! THANK YOU VERY, VERY MUCH!!!!!


Von December 10, 2009 at 1:09 am

Yummm…this looks so good! How many meatballs does this make?


Carroll May 22, 2010 at 3:06 am

nice information but when ı reading article ,ı’m really strain. YOur theme is super but so slow and sidebar is brokedown. İf you fix it your site is be perfect : )


Rita September 7, 2010 at 10:12 pm

These look great. Do you know how many people this recipe can serve? Thanks!


alice September 8, 2010 at 12:57 am

Hi Rita,
I would say this would easily serve 4 but could serve up to 6.


Gwen September 11, 2011 at 11:46 am

I have made this recipe so many times in the last couple of years. I made it last February when we had some friends over for lunch after church – the kind of friends that come over and eat lunch and then all asleep on the couch while watching football on a leisurely Sunday afternoon. You know, the best kind of friends. That very week, we learned that Bruce (the father) had cancer and within a few months, he had gone on to Heaven. Today I made that meal again for his wife and son on the 5 month anniversary of his death. Thank you for this recipe and for sharing so much of your life with those of us blessed enough to be reading your blog.


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