Classic Spaghetti and Meatballs

Quick and easy Classic Spaghetti and Meatballs: homey, hearty, the culinary equivalent of a warm fuzzy sweater.

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Mother Nature must have heard my cries because we had real fall-like temperatures smiling down on us in the dead of winter fall.  It was literally 71 degrees yesterday!

Despite the unseasonably warm day we had yesterday, we are brought back to reality with 50 degrees this morning.  I finally gave in and unpacked my winter coats and scarves from the dry cleaner bags.  The heat has already been switched on in our building as well, so there’s no turning back.

Today I am sharing with you the epitome of comfort foods: Spaghetti and Meatballs.

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I’ve noticed that I have not shared my Spaghetti Meatballs with you, despite the fact that I love all kinds of meatballs.  Spaghetti and Meatballs is what I call a shortcut homemade dish.  Sometimes, if I’m lucky, I’ll have a stray container of marinara sauce I make from scratch lingering in the freezer, but usually I get some help from storebought marinara sauce, sprucing it up with caramelized onions and garlic, dried Italian herbs, and a spoonful of sugar to balance out the acidity.

This dish is an absolute breeze to make.  Instead of pan frying the meatballs, I bake them in the oven until they retain their shape (not completely cooked through though) and then transfer them to a pot of simmering marinara sauce to finish cooking.  Toss in some cooked pasta – penne, spaghetti, or whatever you have on hand (I like spaghetti rigati because it holds more sauce) – and you’re golden.  No more than 45 minutes after I stepped foot in the kitchen – dinner was ready!

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In other news, another episode of Top Chef: Boston is coming out tonight!  I am a sucker for Top Chef and have watched every season since the first season without fail.  It is one of the few shows I watch every week (Bachelor/Bachelorette and Master Chef are my other guilty pleasures) and I wish there are more episodes each week and more episodes each season.  A little greedy, huh?

Do you like to watch cooking competition shows?

Classic Spaghetti and Meatballs

Serves: 4

Ingredients

1 pound lean ground beef
1 egg
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
½ cup Italian bread crumbs
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper
½ tsp red pepper flakes, optional
1 lb spaghetti
Olive oil, for cooking
1 small onions, diced
2 cloves garlic, mined
1 24-oz jar marinara sauce
1 tsp dried Italian seasoning
½ tbsp sugar
Salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 425F.

In a large bowl, mix together beef, egg, parmesan cheese, bread crumbs, Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes until the ingredients are well combined. Form mixture into 1½-inch meatballs and place on foil-lined baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes until the meatballs are set (may not be completely cooked through).

Meanwhile, cook spaghetti in a large pot of salted water until al dente. Drain and reserve a cup of pasta water for later use.

In a large pot, sauté garlic and onion in olive oil until soft, 5 to 7 minutes. Add marinara sauce, herbs, and sugar, and bring to a boil. Add meatballs to the pot and simmer on low for 15 minutes. Season sauce with salt and pepper to taste. Toss cooked pasta with the sauce, adding pasta water to thin out if necessary. Serve with cheese and bread, if desired.

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