I will start this post by saying my husband and I met in Italy. Well, technically Spain, but we were both living in Italy at the time. Even managed to scrounge up time for a few rudimentary cooking classes while I was there. So I’ve had my fill of ah-mazing pasta. In Florence, Rome, Fiesole, Sienna…

But do you know where I’ve eaten the best spaghetti and meatballs? Right in my own kitchen. Last night as a matter of fact. Adapted a recipe from the famous Rao’s Restaurant {thanks to my in-laws for introducing us to their cookbook!}.

No joke. It really was the best spaghetti and meatballs I have ever had. Know what else? It passed the Bug test with flying colors. So that means triple stars in my book.

This is an easy-peasy recipe that used canned tomatoes and will wow the most discerning of food critics {read: your toddler or preschooler}. But I should note that quality is everything when it comes to great sauce. The quality of your canned tomatoes and extra virgin olive oil will make all the difference in this recipe. Splurge for the good stuff and skip the generic stock-up sale stuff you have stashed in the pantry. Save those cans for your next batch of chilli…

Enjoy! And don’t be scared about the two cups of water in the meatballs. Just go for it. You’ll thank me later.

The Best Spaghetti and Meatballs EVER
Adapted from Rao’s Recipes

Marinara Sauce:

  • 2 cans San Marzano Tomatoes, Whole, Peeled
  • 1/4 cup high quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
  • 1/2 a sweet onion, minced onion
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled & minced
  • 10 leaves fresh basil, torn
  • Pinch of dried oregano
  • Pinch of Sea Salt
  • Pinch of Fresh Ground Black Pepper

Heat EVOO in large saucepan over medium-low heat.  Add onion and sauté until translucent. Throw in garlic and sauté for 3-4 more minutes, until softened.

Seed tomatoes and reserve juice. Sir tomatoes, reserved juice and salt into the onion and garlic. Reduce heat to a very low simmer and cook for about an hour, until flavors have combined and sauce is slightly thickened.  Stir in basil, oregano and pepper. Add meatballs (recipe below) and cook for 15 more minutes.

Melt-in-Your-Mouth Meatballs

  • 1 pound ground lean beef
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parrano cheese (similar to Dutch Gouda)
  • 1½ tablespoons fresh chopped Italian parsley
  • 1 small garlic clove, peeled and minced
  • 2 cups Italian bread crumbs
  • 2 cups lukewarm water
  • Sea Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup high quality, Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)

Combine beef and pork in a large bowl. Add eggs, cheese, parsley, garlic, and salt and pepper to taste. Using your hands, blend ingredients together. Blend bread crumbs into meat mixture.

Slowly add water, 1 cup at a time, until the mixture is quite moist. Shape the meat mixture into balls (2 inch balls).

Heat EVOO in a large sauté pan. When oil is very hot but not smoking, fry meatballs in batches. When bottom half of meatball is very brown and slightly crisp turn and cook top half. Remove from heat and drain on paper towels.

Makes about 32 meatballs

Use your favorite and cook according to directions on the box. I used German Egg Noodles because that’s what I had in the pantry. Worked beautifully. But, I guess you could (and maybe should?) use spaghetti noodles. 

(cool) tip: Sprinkle a little of your left over grated Paranno cheese on top. Yum!