Whenever this dude gets a chance to have a dinner request, this is what he asks for. Spaghetti and Meatballs is his absolute favorite meal. I like to make it for him because everyone in my house will eat it. Well, Ava only eats the spaghetti, but there is no drama when this dinner is put in front of my children. This dinner is also a favorite for me because I get two dinners for one. I always double the amount and freeze half for another night. On the other night, I will usually make meatball subs or put some meatballs in a baked ziti or a lasagna. I try to change it up. It is a win-win for all.
This is the type of dinner that I like to make on a weekend when I have some time. It takes a little more time and effort to make, but it is so worth it. It is wholesome and warm. My kids love it and will eat it. We set a nice table, have a crispy salad and maybe if I am really motivated, some garlic bread. When I am really, really motivated, I will make my own pasta. There is something so cozy about spaghetti and meatballs.
This recipe is from Giada De Laurentis and it is one of the my favorites. I deviate from Giada’s recipe in that she uses a mixture of beef, veal and pork, but I use all beef.
For the meatballs:
1 small onion grated
1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley
3 Tablespoons ketchup
3 minced garlic cloves
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2/3 cup grated Parmesan
1/4 dried Italian bread crumbs
18 ounces lean ground beef
For the Marinara Sauce:
1/2 cup olive oil
2 small onions chopped
2 garlic cloves minced
2 stalked chopped celery
2 carrots diced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 (32-ounce) can crushed tomatoes (I use San Marzano because I think that they are the best. More expensive, but completely worth it.)
2 dried bay leaves
Giada says to put the first 7 ingredients in a bowl and whisk them together. And then stir in the cheese and bread crumbs. Then mix in the beef. Obviously, I did not do this in this picture, do as I say, not as I do. It is easier to incorporate all of the ingredients when you do it her way.
One of my most favorite kitchen tools. Disposable gloves. I am not a huge fan of touching stuff with bare hands, so these are a Godsend. I roll my meatballs fairly small. I use an ice cream scooper to try and get them roughly the same size.
Giada fries her meatballs in a pan with olive oil. I like to bake mine. I think that it is a little healthier. I line a baking sheet covered with tin foil. I put a cooling rack on top of that coated with a little cooking spray.
Bake them in a 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes. It will depend on the size of your meatballs. They are also going to be simmered in the sauce too, so do not over cook them or they will be really dry.
In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and saute for about 10 minutes. The onions will soften. (I do not usually use red onions, but that is what I had at the time. It was nap time and I was not heading out over onions.)
Add the celery, carrots, salt and pepper to the pot. Cook until the veggies are soft, another 10 minutes or so.
Add the crushed tomatoes and bay leaves. I like my sauce fairly smooth so I hit it with my immersion blender.
Simmer over low heat until the sauce thickens, about an hour.
Add your meatballs and let simmer uncovered with the sauce. Give it a stir every 10-15 minutes or so. Be careful when you are cooking the sauce to not break up the meatballs when you stir it.
I serve half of it for dinner and put the other half in Ziploc bags. I like to freeze this way, because it takes far less time to defrost when the bags are flat like this. I also get a lot more space out of my freezer this way.
Serve over some pasta and sprinkle with cheese. Dinner (that everyone loves) is served!