Spaghetti and meatballs

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

I grew up with Vietnamese food and it wasn’t until I met my husband over 15 years ago that I was introduced to Italian food. For the first year that we dated, we ate mainly Italian food because it was a novelty to me--spaghetti, lasagna, gnocchi, and all kind of pasta. I owe my love of Italian food to my husband so I make one of his favorite dishes often, spaghetti and meatballs. 

I like adding fresh tomatoes to the tomato passata for that extra tomato umph. I love using tomato passata because it’s made with high quality ripe tomatoes resulting in a well flavoured tomato base that is more delicious compared to the standard canned tomatoes.   Every family has their own meatball recipe but we found the combination of pork and veal make really moist meatballs.  Spaghetti and meatballs is such a tasty and classic dish that can feed the whole family and make for great leftovers.

Spaghetti and Meatballs
14 oz of dried spaghetti
½ tbsp of salt
2 tbsps of olive oil
Freshly ground pepper, to serve
Finely grated Parmesan cheese, to serve
Extra basil leaves to serve

For the sauce:
2 tbsps of olive oil
1 tbsp of garlic, chopped
1 cup of fresh San Marzanos tomatoes, chopped (can substitute with Roma tomatoes)
1 24-oz bottle of passata
½ cup of red wine
1 cup of spaghetti water
½ cup of basil leaves, chopped

2 tbsps sugar
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

For the meatballs:
½ lb ground pork

½ lb ground veal
½ cup shredded Mozzarella cheese
¾ cup panko
2 eggs
1 tbsp garlic, chopped
¼ cup white onion, chopped
1 tsp salt
½ tsp ground pepper
2 tbsps olive oil

1. For the meatballs, in a large mixing bowl combine pork, veal, cheese, panko, eggs, garlic, white onion, salt, and pepper and mix well to combine.

2. Using wet hands, roll 2 tbsps of the mixture into balls and place them on a plate. Cover and refrigerate the meatballs for 30 minutes to allow the flavor the develop.

3. Heat 2 tbsps of olive oil in a deep frying pan over medium heat. Cook the meatballs in batches, turning frequently for 5 minutes or until browned.

4.  Remove the meatballs from the pan and set aside.

5. In the same pan, add 2 tbsps of olive oil and the garlic and let it cook and become fragrant, about 5 minutes.

6. Add the fresh tomatoes, tomato passata, and red wine to the pan. Bring to a boil. Add the meatballs and simmer for 30 minutes or until the sauce is reduced and the meatballs are cooked through.

7. While the meatballs are cooking, place the spaghetti in a large saucepan of salted boiling water and cook for 10 minutes or until al dente. Drain well but do not rinse. Toss the spaghetti with olive oil.

8. If the tomato sauce becomes too thick, add the spaghetti water to thin it. Add basil and season with sugar, salt, and pepper to taste. 

9.Divide the spaghetti between serving bowls, top with meatballs, extra sauce, basil leaves, and Parmesan cheese.


  1. I love how you add panko to the meatball mixture - what a great idea! I usually add breadcrumbs or semolina, but sometimes I will have neither. Good to know that panko works too! I adore spaghetti with meatballs. I make it often for the family, pretending that it's for the kids, but it's really for me ;-) Beautiful photos as always :-)

    1. Thanh, I rarely have breadcrumbs around but panko is always available. We also use them for the Chinese lion's head meatballs recipe and various other meatball recipes. I don't think I've tried semolina before. My husband loves spaghetti with meatballs so we have it probably every other two weeks!