Meatballs with Spaghetti

Kitchen Tested
  • Yield 8 servings
  • Prep 15 mins
  • Cook 105 mins

An American favorite.

Mark Boughton Photography / styling by Teresa Blackburn

Strictly an American invention, Mark Strausman’s spaghetti and meatballs are the classic dish most remember from childhood. “I don’t fry my meatballs, as Pino does. I simmer them in the tomato sauce until they’re cooked through. If you are like Pino and can’t bear the idea of meatballs on top of spaghetti (I’d like to know how many of you there are out there!), you can prepare this dish without the spaghetti and simply serve the meatballs in the sauce with lots of crusty artisan bread.”


1 cup day-old sourdough bread cubes (crust removed)
1 cup whole milk
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium red onion, finely chopped
8 ounces ground veal
8 ounces ground chuck
8 ounces lean ground pork
8 ounces sweet Italian sausage, removed from casings and crumbled
3 tablespoons dried oregano
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese
2 large eggs
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Sauce and Spaghetti:
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 medium red onion, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 cup dry red wine
2 cans (28-ounce) Italian plum tomatoes, with juice, puréed in a food processor
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
1 1/2 pounds hot cooked spaghetti or linguine


  1. To prepare meatballs, place bread and milk in a medium bowl and let stand 5 minutes.
  2. Heat large Dutch oven over medium heat. When hot, add olive oil. Add onion and cook until soft and golden, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove pot from heat.
  3. Place veal, beef, pork and sausage in a large bowl; using your hands, mix well. Add oregano, cheeses, eggs, parsley, bread mixture, onion, salt and pepper; mix well.
  4. To prepare sauce, heat a large saucepan over medium heat; add olive oil. Add onion and garlic, cook 5 minutes. Add tomato paste; stir 1 minute. Add wine, tomatoes, salt and red pepper flakes, if using, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low; simmer gently 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Form 16 golf-ball size portions of meat. Add to sauce.
  6. Simmer gently until meatballs are thoroughly cooked and no longer pink in center, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Serve meatballs and sauce over spaghetti.

Recipe by Mark Strausman. Adapted from Two Meatballs in the Italian Kitchen (Artisan Books), copyright 2007 by Pino Luongo and Mark Strausman.



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