Spaghetti and Herbed Meatballs

I have always had a love affair with big cities. Cities such as New York, Paris, Seattle and Los Angeles make me feel alive; the constant low hum of activity is electric. These cities rarely sleep; there is always movement, always a vibrant collection of people from all walks of life.

My first introduction to New York was at 19. My boyfriend’s (now husband) family invited me to join them on a business trip. At this point in time, I had rarely left the confines of my sleepy little Midwest town. The thought of spending time in one of the most vibrant, busy cities in the world was exciting, to say the least. New York did not disappoint. This was my first introduction to world-class cuisines and is essentially where my love affair with food began.

The second night in the city began with trying to hail a taxi to join my father-in-law’s business partner and family for dinner. We arrived at the restaurant; the main dining room had five tables. We were seated at one of the tables, white linens graced the tables and exposed brick patterned the walls. The waiters spoke with heavy Italian accents. Not quite sure how to act or what to say or do, I sat quietly and observed the environment.

The business partner had brought his extended family along for dinner. An older woman sat across from me and, seeing my apparent unfamiliarity with the situation, quietly poured me a glass of red wine. In a heavy Italian accent, she began to ask me about my life, my story. She told me about her family, Italy, and her journey in life. As we talked, the entrees began to come, large plates of cheese smothered lasagna, big bowls of freshly made focaccia, thin crust pizzas with fresh mozzarella, and spaghetti with the biggest meatballs I have ever seen! The dinner seemed to last for hours, the food was never ending. The spaghetti and meatballs still linger in my memory, the intoxicating smell of tomatoes, garlic, fresh herbs... All plated on a huge mound of perfectly al dente pasta.

Although my travels in New York seem like a lifetime ago the smell of spaghetti and meatballs instantly transports me back that moment.

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Spaghetti and Herbed Meatballs Recipe

Spaghetti and Herbed Meatballs Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 12 ounces ground chuck 80/20
  • 6 ounces finely shredded Parmesan
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley
  • ¼ cup Italian breadcrumbs
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon finely ground black peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 large onion
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 6 cups canned crush Italian tomatoes
  • 3 dried bay leaves
  • 1 pound dried spaghetti

How to Make Spaghetti and Herbed Meatballs

Bring a stockpot of water to a boil and salt it. Put the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.

Put the ground beef in a medium bowl. Add the dried parsley and parmesan cheese to the ground beef. Add the bread crumbs, crack in the egg, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Gently mix until everything is just combined.

Raise the heat to medium-high; use 2 teaspoons to drop rounds of the meatball mixture into the skillet without touching one another. Cook on medium heat until they’re lightly browned on the bottom, 5 to 6 minutes. Chop the onions and garlic. Add to the meatballs in the skillet.

When the meatballs are browned on the bottom and the onions and garlic begin to soften, add the tomatoes to the skillet, along with the bay leaves and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Lower the heat to a simmer, cover the skillet and cook until the meat cooks through, about 8 minutes. Remove the lid and let the sauce thicken for another 5 to 10 minutes, remove from heat and set aside.

Add the pasta to the boiling water and stir. Boil on medium high heat for 10-12 minutes until the pasta is tender. Drain.

To serve, divide the pasta among 4 plates or bowls; top with the meatballs and the remaining sauce, and sprinkle the remaining Parmesan.