classic spaghetti and meatballs

classic spaghetti and meatballs

Classic spaghetti and meatballs with a healthy sepcooks twist! This tried and tested family favorite features baked meatballs, and bright simple tomato sauce, heaped over brown rice noodles.

My sister, Jasmine, and I spent many nights in 2014 binge watching the entire Sopranos series. We spent hours Saturday nights drinking wine, eating charcuterie platters, and becoming engrossed in the Sopranos’ characters and scenarios. Inspired by the families on the show, we vowed to make Sunday night dinners a family tradition and we all look forward to it every week. Even with the addition of my amazing husband, the tradition continues and I cook up family favorites like spaghetti and meatballs!

spaghetti and meatballs
photo source: http://uproxx.com/life/sopranos-food-moments/

I love baking all the meatballs in the oven to avoid extra fat from frying. The bright tomato sauce is flavorful but light enough to let the meatballs shine. The meatballs are made with lean beef and spicy Italian sausage and seasoned to perfection. We spoon everything over brown rice noodles and pass extra parmesan around the table…it’s the perfect family meal! Mangia!

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classic spaghetti and meatballs

classic spaghetti and meatballs

Classic spaghetti and meatballs made healthier with baked meatballs and brown rice pasta.

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Ingredients

Meatballs:

  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 2 slices whole wheat bread 
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil 
  • 1/2 large yellow onion – diced (dice up an entire onion – you will use the second half in your sauce) 
  • 2 links Italian spicy sausage (casings removed)
  • 1 lb 85% lean Ground beef
  • 1/4 Cup fresh parsley leaves (chopped)
  • ¼ Cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
  • 1 egg (slightly beaten)
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 ½  tsp sea salt
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper

The sauce:

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves (finely chopped)
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 28-oz cans crushed tomatoes
  • 1 Cup low sodium Chicken broth or filtered water
  • 1/2 Cup fresh parsley leaves (chopped)
  • ½ Cup fresh basil leaves (chopped) plus extra for garnish
  • ½ Cup grated parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper (you will taste the sauce to determine the amount)
  • 1 lb spaghetti of your choice (cooked according to package instructions) – I use brown rice spaghetti

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. Grease the aluminum foil lightly with olive oil, set aside.
  2. Tear the bread into small pieces and combine with the milk. Allow it to sit for 5 minutes and mash into a paste with a fork.
  3. While the bread is soaking, heat olive oil over medium high heat in a shallow dutch oven (or saucepan with tall sides). Add the diced onion and cook until translucent and starting to brown, about 8-10 minutes.
  4. While the onions are cooking, combine the sausage, beef, parsley, parmesan, garlic, egg, nutmeg, salt, ground black pepper, and bread paste in a large bowl. Allow the onions to cool slightly and add 1/2 of the sauteed onions to the meat mixture. Keep the remaining sauteed onions in the pan to build the sauce.
  5. Use clean hands to thoroughly combine the meat mixture. Use a 1/4 cup measure to scoop out equal amounts of the meat and roll into balls.
  6. Place the meatballs on the greased baking sheet, about 1 inch apart.
  7. Bake the meatballs for 20-25 minutes until they’re fully cooked, the internal temperature should be 165 degrees.
  8. While the meatballs are baking, add 1 Tbsp of olive oil to the sauteed onions and reheat over medium high heat.
  9. Add the minced garlic and cook until fragrant, 2-3 minutes.
  10. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring frequently, until the paste turns dark red (the color of brick).
  11. Deglaze the pan with 1/4 cup water and use a wooden spoon to scrape the bottom of the pan and lift up the cooked bits from the bottom of the pan.
  12. Add the crushed tomatoes and broth to the pan, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium low. Allow the sauce to simmer for at least 30 minutes.
  13. Stir the parmesan into the sauce and add the cooked meatballs. Simmer the meat and tomatoes together for at least 10 minutes.
  14. While the meat and tomatoes simmer, cook the pasta according to package directions.
  15. Stir parsley and basil into the sauce, taste and add salt and pepper as desired.
  16. Serve the sauce and meatballs over heaps of noodles, garnish with basil and pass extra parmesan around the table.
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