recipe: spaghetti & meatballs

My favorite food? PASTA. Any kind, really. But you can never go wrong with a classic like spaghetti and meatballs.

This is my take on it. It’s not authentic with sauce that simmers for days on end with fresh tomatoes and all of that (because really, who has TIME for that stuff?) but it is my own recipe. I tweaked it a lot along the way and finally got it to where we like it. It’s simple and fresh-tasting and tomato-ey and we love it.

What you’ll need: angel hair (I prefer thin pasta rather than the traditional, thicker noodles, but it’s really okay if you use the regular stuff!), canned tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, an onion, a green pepper, some garlic (1-2 cloves), italian seasoning, ground beef, parmesan cheese, breadcrumbs, an egg… and some other stuff I’m probably forgetting! (the full recipe is at the bottom, all nice and organized for ya.)

Spaghetti and Meatballs

Start by dicing the onion and placing it in a large saucepan/dutch oven-type pan (am I the only one who giggles a little bit at ‘dutch oven’? Hee. I’ve clearly been hanging out with my husband too long.)

Spaghetti and Meatballs

Dice the green pepper.

Spaghetti and Meatballs

Add the bell pepper to the onion in the saucepan (DUTCH OVEN!) (Sorry.)

Spaghetti and Meatballs

Mash up some garlic. I like to cheat and use my garlic press. Easy and it doesn’t make my hands smell for days. I’m in love with my new garlic press.

Spaghetti and Meatballs

Add the garlic and a bit of olive oil to the onion and peppers.

Spaghetti and Meatballs

Next, add a bit of Italian seasoning and some salt & black pepper:

Spaghetti and Meatballs

Cook it all over low-medium heat until the onions start to get soft. Or, if you like your veggies even softer, keep it going for a bit. (We like a bit of crunch in the green peppers!)

Spaghetti and Meatballs

Now I got excited here and added everything at once without taking a picture. Sorry about that. So just imagine that you’re seeing the crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, and tomato paste going in separately.

And then: VOILA!

Spaghetti and Meatballs

Give it a good stir and let that simmer for a bit.

On to the meatballs!

Combine the ground beef in a medium bowl with an egg, parmesan cheese, breadcrumbs, a clove of garlic, black pepper, and some Italian seasoning.

Spaghetti and Meatballs

Now for my least favorite part. It’s cold, it’s slimy. But it must be done!

Spaghetti and Meatballs

Once the ingredients are well-blended, form 1-to-2inch meatballs.

Spaghetti and Meatballs

Place each meatball into the pan with the sauce- uncooked. Don’t worry, it’s safe! They will be cooked like dumplings in the sauce.

Spaghetti and Meatballs

Stir the sauce and meatballs a little bit- carefully, so that they don’t break apart.

Spaghetti and Meatballs

Simmer the sauce on medium heat (covered) for 10-15 minutes, or until the meatballs are cooked through.

While the sauce is going, get some water boiling for the pasta. Cook according to package directions.

Spaghetti and Meatballs

Stir the meatballs and sauce every few minutes to make sure it doesn’t stick!

Spaghetti and Meatballs

Serve the sauce over the pasta, topped with parmesan cheese. YUM.

Spaghetti and Meatballs


Spaghetti and Meatballs
  1. angel hair pasta
  2. 1lb ground beef
  3. 1 large onion, diced
  4. 1 large bell pepper, diced
  5. 2 cans (15oz) crushed tomatoes
  6. 1 can (15oz) tomato sauce
  7. 1 can (8oz) tomato paste
  8. 2-3 cloves garlic
  9. 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  10. 1/4 cup Italian breadcrumbs
  11. 1 egg
  12. salt & black pepper
  13. Italian seasoning
  1. Cook pasta according to the package directions. Saute diced onion, bell pepper, and garlic in olive oil in large pan with Italian seasonings, salt, and pepper. Cook until onions are soft; add canned tomatoes, tomato sauce, and tomato paste. Mix and simmer.
  2. Combine ground beef with parmesan cheese, breadcrumbs, egg, garlic, and seasonings. Mix well and form into 1-to-2-inch balls. Add meatballs to the sauce; stir gently and simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until the meatballs are cooked through. Serve over cooked pasta and top with parmesan cheese.


  1. Andrea

    April 16, 2009 9:19 am

    You know what, I’ve never “boiled” meatballs like that… I’ve always browned them in the skillet or else baked them first… Hmmm, I’m gonna have to give that a try next time. Less work is always a good thing! :)

  2. Mel

    April 16, 2009 9:24 am

    Ha! I hope I’m not the only one that understands the Dutch Oven line.

    That looks SOOOOOO good! I’ve never done the meat balls that way either. Seems like one less pan to clean up, if you ask me!

  3. Jen

    April 16, 2009 9:31 am

    @Andrea: yup it’s awesome. I saw the idea on Rachael Ray back when I was pregnant and I watched every day :) They don’t get crispy like they do when you brown them, but we usually mush them up anyway once they’re on our plates. Super easy!

  4. Burgh Baby

    April 16, 2009 11:34 am

    You continuously make me look bad with stuff like this. My family is lucky if I bust out a jar of Barilla and dump it over some half-cooked noodles.

  5. Carla

    April 16, 2009 12:49 pm

    I loathe squishing the hamburger mixture for meatballs and meatloaf…

    I’ve tried putting it all in a gallon size ziploc bag and mixing it that way, then I use a “scoop” from pampered chef to scoop out my meatballs. No touching the gunk.

  6. Crissy

    April 16, 2009 1:06 pm

    Looks yummy! I love it when you post photos/recipes.

  7. Caity

    April 16, 2009 1:16 pm

    Wow that looks so good! I am also a sucker for pasta of any kind. This is a fabulous recipe!

  8. Laura

    April 16, 2009 2:48 pm

    Awesome, I might try it soon. I haven’t been impressed with any “spaghetti sauce from scratch” recipes I’ve tried up until now. I am still one of those people who thinks opening a jar and dumping it over pasta is actually a good idea and much more “worth it”. ;)

  9. Jen

    April 16, 2009 2:54 pm

    @Laura: We used to do that- but we couldn’t find a sauce we liked! They were all too sweet (and Dan hates sweet spaghetti sauce) So when I saw this idea, I decided to try it. I don’t add nearly as much seasoning and salt as some recipes I’ve found though- we like the fresh taste of the tomatoes!

  10. sparkyd

    April 17, 2009 3:45 pm

    May I ask what kind of garlic press you have? And can you really use it without even peeling the garlic? Cool. I threw mine out awhile ago because it was useless. I’ve heard the pampered chef ones are good and I was wondering if that’s what you’ve got.

  11. Stephanie

    April 17, 2009 5:14 pm

    HONESTLY: I giggle over dutch oven too. Mature much?

    CONFESSION: I found out that dutch oven was something you use in the kitchen YEARS after I knew what it meant under the sheets.


  12. Nichole

    April 17, 2009 10:46 pm

    In the words of my %100 Italian grandpa, I never met a noodle I didn’t like!!!

  13. Jen

    April 17, 2009 11:00 pm

    @sparkyd: Yup, I have the Pampered Chef one, and yes, you can use it without peeling! There is a bit of waste left in the press afterward, but to me, that’s better than garlicky fingers :) (And it’s really not that much waste.) I’ve had it for a few months and just love it. And I got my sister on for Christmas!

  14. Pei

    April 17, 2009 11:18 pm

    Looks awesome!! I usually brown my meatballs first, then deglaze the same pot with a splash of white wine, saute garlic, pepperincino and shallots, then return my meatballs to pot and simmer it in my already made sauce (I make marinara sauce in batches!) for about an hour before serving. I like the texture of browned meatballs since I don’t mash ’em up when eating. Plus I also like the bit of kick the pepperincino gives…I guess mine is more like an arrabiatta spag/meatballs!

  15. Amanda

    April 18, 2009 2:39 am

    Are you rocking the Pampered Chef Garlic Press? Because I am. I love me some Pampered Chef.

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