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Pasta with Meatballs in Balsamic Tomato Sauce


Ingredients

  • 4 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 14 1/2-ounce cans diced tomatoes with balsamic vinegar, basil, and olive oil
  • 1 pound purchased cooked meatballs
  • 3/4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil
  • 1 pound perciatelli or spaghetti
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Recipe Preparation

  • Heat oil in heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic; sauté until soft and golden, about 5 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and wine. Simmer 10 minutes. Add meatballs and basil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until meatballs are heated through and sauce is slightly reduced, about 15 minutes.

  • Meanwhile, cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite. Drain; return to pot. Add meatballs with sauce and 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to bowl; sprinkle with 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese.

Recipe by Melanie Barnard, Brooke DojnyReviews Section

Classic spaghetti and meatballs

Reader ratings (3.68)
Janis Lee

This recipe will surely become a family favourite.


Baked Meatballs in Balsamic Tomato Sauce

Baked Meatballs in Balsamic Tomato Sauce.. a full flavored rich tomato sauce, topped with melty gooey fresh mozzarella, it&rsquos Italian food, kicked up a notch or two!

I keep these Balsamic Roasted Tomatoes with Onions in the freezer, and then pop them out, defrost it in the microwave, and use it to make a quick meal. I use these as my secret flavor ingredient all the time. It adds a great flavor punch to dishes. Here are some of my other recipes with these tomatoes:

  • Orzo with Balsamic Tomatoes and Basil is great for an easy lunch.
  • Gnocchi with Balsamic Tomatoes and Caramelized Onions is super easy to put together, and really yummy. This one I make regularly around here.
  • Brie and Balsamic Roasted Tomato Crostini is a fun and fancy appetizer, and you don&rsquot have to tell your guests how easy it is to make it! This would also be fabulous for Tapas night!
  • One of Dan&rsquos favorite dishes, Braised Beef with Balsamic Roasted Tomatoes. This one is sure to please all the meat eaters in your house.

Use your favorite spaghetti sauce for this Baked Meatballs in Balsamic Tomato Sauce, homemade is great, or just use a jar for convenience, after all, we all need a little healthy tasty convenience food now and then!

You might not be familiar with the Sun-Dried Tomato & Basil everything spread that I have in the ingredients for these Baked Meatballs in Balsamic Tomato Sauce.

I bought this &ldquospread&rdquo on a whim, and I really like it. It&rsquos fill flavored and yummy. I&rsquove used it several times in different ways. I bet it would be delicious as an appetizer on a slice of toasted bread with some melted cheese on top. It&rsquos my intention to try and make some from scratch, but for now I wanted you to be able to make this delicious recipe with the store-bought ingredient.

If you can&rsquot find this Sun-Dried Tomato & Basil everything spread in your store, Amazon carries it (affiliate link above), or you could sub in regular tomato paste.

Use your favorite meatballs as well. I like frozen meatless meatballs. It&rsquos hit and miss to find them at my grocery store, but Sprouts, Mother&rsquos Market, Target all carry them. Again, you may want homemade, or pre-made pork, beef, turkey, or chicken will all work just fine.


The onions

Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers' tomato sauce.

Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers in the River Cafe Classic Italian Cookbook reckon the onion is a cornerstone of the classic sugo di pomodoro, but while most recipes call for a standard yellow version, they go for red, thinly sliced and cooked to melting sweetness before a tomato has so much as hit the pan. Hartnett also softens her onions before adding the remaining ingredients, while Del Conte and Hazan simmer them all together. Locatelli doesn't use them at all.

The onion helps to balance the natural acidity of the tomatoes, but you certainly don't need as much of it as Gray and Rogers suggest. For a versatile sauce, I think yellow are preferable.

Hartnett, Gray and Rogers and Del Conte also use garlic in their sauces (thus putting to bed once and for all, I hope, the notion that Italian cooks never use them together) – and indeed, a little garlic is never a bad thing where a tomato is concerned.


Meatballs with orzo pasta

1 Put the mince, chilli flakes, lemon zest and half the fresh and dried herbs in a medium bowl and season with black pepper. Wet your hands, then combine the ingredients. Shape rounded teaspoons of the mixture into 28–32 small balls (if making ahead, freeze the meatballs in a freezer proof container at this stage, then thaw thoroughly before continuing).

2 Spray a large, deep, non-stick frying pan with oil and set over a medium-high heat. Add the meatballs (in batches, if necessary) and cook for 5–6 min, turning, until browned. Transfer to a plate. Re-spray the pan with oil, then cook the onion and garlic for 5 min or until soft. Add the remaining dried oregano with the tomato purée and cook, stirring, for 1 min. Add the chopped tomatoes and bring to the boil.

3 Return all the meatballs to the frying pan and reduce the heat to low. Simmer for 10–15 min until the meatballs are cooked through and the sauce is thickened.

4 Meanwhile, cook the orzo in unsalted water according to the pack instructions, then drain and divide among 4 bowls. Spoon over the meatballs and sauce, top with a dollop of ricotta, then scatter over the remaining parsley or coriander and some ground black pepper. Toss the salad leaves with the vinegar, then serve alongside.


Reviews & Comments

Thanks once again, Jenn, for a delicious recipe! After sampling the first few meatballs, I have put the rest in the freezer for family visits. I really appreciate that many of your recipes can be made ahead! I know everyone will be happy with these yummy meatballs!!
FYI — No one had any Purdue chicken & I searched at several stores but was unable to find ground chicken thighs of any brand! I requested that the butchers grind up the packaged thighs that they had for sale but they said they aren’t allowed to grind it because of cross-contamination. One of the butchers offered to take a package of thighs & put it through his tenderizing/cubing machine several times, but the unhappy result was mashed-up meat full of tendons etc. that was impossible to use. I managed to free up a small amount of actual thigh meat from that process, but had to add it to the regular lean ground chicken (breast?) meat that was available. After all that, however, the result was amazing!
I have a question about the Tomato Balsamic Sauce. I made double to have extra for dipping, & I prepared it exactly as you direct in your recipe, but the sauce seems much thicker than what is shown on your website. I used extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, & canned tomato paste, & sugar. It’s very thick, not at all pour-able, mounding & almost standing up on its own, & it is somehow separating from the oil. I even tried whirling it in the blender. Do you have any suggestions on how to remedy this situation? Should I use tomato sauce instead of tomato paste? And if we want less tart flavor, for the children’s sake, would you recommend adding some cream or using more sugar or less balsamic vinegar, or .
Thanks again for being such a ready help in time of need !!

Hi Toni, Glad you like the meatballs, Regarding the sauce, the texture that you’re describing is really just the nature of the glaze. It’s thick by design so that it will stick to the meatballs and not really intended for dipping. That said, you could try thinning it out with a little bit of water. That will serve to thin it and also temper the flavor a little bit. Hope that helps!

Can I use the beef turkey meatballs I made and froze last week …or will that combo alter the taste too much? If so I will get ground chicken!
Thanks

If you already have meatballs, made, I’d go for it. Please LMK what you think!


Prep Ahead And Store

Crockpot Spaghetti and Meatballs is an ideal meal prep solution.

Prep Ahead &ndash This recipe is so easy to make. You can get all your ingredients together for your Slow Cooker Spaghetti ahead of time so you&rsquore prepped and ready to toss in the Slow Cooker later.

Store &ndash Make ahead and store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.

Freeze &ndash Follow the handy tips below on how to freeze this.

  • Let the spaghetti and meatballs cool down then transfer into these very handy Ziploc freezer bags. I recommend putting in single serving sizes for easier reheating.
  • Squeeze out all the extra air and seal the bags.
  • Label the bags and then lay them flat in the freezer.
  • Store in the freezer for 3 months.

Reheat- When ready to enjoy, take the bag out of the freezer the night beforehand and place in the refrigerator to thaw overnight.

To reheat, you can place thawed pasta and sauce in a pan on the stovetop, reheat and stir.

Meal Prep &ndash You can easily double or triple this recipe to make extra pasta and meatballs for other meals or freeze the meal for later use.


Mini Meatballs in Tomato Sauce

November. Can anyone tell me what happened to August, September and October? It feels like the last four months just didn&rsquot happen. Gone in a flash.

I hope everyone is looking forward to the holidays, festivities and family love that lie ahead as we get in gear for 2014. It is going to be a killer&hellip

But before we get there, I would love to share a few more recipes with you before we say goodbye to the whirlwind that was 2013.

This recipe is a perfect midweek dinner feast, with great flavours and textures. It consists of mini beef meatballs, cooked in an onion and tomato sauce served with crispy toasted Panini slices.

This is the type of food I will just live off. I love a crispy slice of bread, ciabatta or Panini &ndash and I am always looking out for bruschetta on the menu of Italian restaurants. And of course, in this case &ndash it is all about the sauce and the crunch of the bread as you bite into all that goodness.

The sauce is absolutely divine as a leftover pasta sauce for the next evening&rsquos dinner. You can also serve your Mini Meatballs in Tomato Sauce with decadent roasted garlic mash or rice. The world is your oyster! Enjoy!


Better Off Red

2/17/16 By Eleanore Park

The roots of red sauce go way beyond the borders of red-and-white-checkered tablecloths at Jersey-Italian restaurants (not that we don't love a good Sunday gravy). In Marcella Hazan's Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking (in which she showcases no less than 10 variations of the classic sauce), she reminds us, "There is nothing inherently crude about tomato sauce."

Red sauce can be romantic in its simplicity—delicate, versatile and comforting. And all of which can be accomplished with one 28-ounce can of whole peeled tomatoes. With that in mind, we spoke to our favorite red sauce experts to bring you tips, plus five variations to make at home.

Be sentimental. It's classic for a reason, and for some chefs, it pulls on nostalgic heartstrings. Frank Castronovo and Frank Falcinelli ("The Franks") are the chefs and co-owners of New York City's Frankies Spuntino Group, which includes neighborhood restaurants Prime Meats, Frankies 457 Spuntino and Frankies 570 Spuntino. "From the time I remember life, I remember smelling tomato sauce . . . [it] reminds me of family," Castronovo recollects. He's referring to the classic marinara sauce recipe used by his grandparents, which is the same recipe that's been used at Frankies 457 Spuntino since they opened their doors in 2004. Falcinelli explains, "The Frankies sauce is the classic, time-honored marinara sauce. It hasn't changed, and we don't expect it to change."

Quality ingredients are key. Yeah, we know this sounds like a broken record cooking mantra, but given that the list of ingredients can be as minimal as three items here (and that's including the pasta itself), live a little and spend the extra time and money on sourcing ingredients. Castronovo harps, "The sauce only has a few ingredients, so it's important they are the best quality. Use good olive oil, fresh garlic and San Marzano tomatoes. That's all it is."

Master the basics. The addition of butter can be a point of contention, but at its core, a quality red sauce will always be tomatoes and olive oil. Vetri alum Adam Leonti, currently at Brooklyn Bread Lab, explains, "For me, it's tomato and spaghetti and getting closer and closer to less and less ingredients. It's become more and more about just tomato and spaghetti and olive oil." Don't let the simplicity of the ingredients and steps fool you. Falcinelli reminds us, "Follow the recipe. Stir often. Simmer slowly. And don't burn the sauce!"

Go beyond the noodle. Tomato sauce can wear many different hats when tossed with your favorite noodle. Leonti will add garam coloratura, a Sicilian fish sauce, to make a dish particularly savory. Once you've mastered the red sauce basics, look past pasta as a vehicle. At Frankies 457 Spuntino and Frankies 570 Spuntino, the Frankies' mother sauce is used all across the menu: the classic gnocchi, eggplant Parmesan and meatballs. While Falcinelli loves using tomato sauce as a finishing touch to many dishes, Castronovo will also incorporate it from the start of a recipe: "I love how tomato sauce can act as an amazing braising liquid and the way it takes on the flavors of fish, meat or vegetables. It is the best vehicle."

Now that you've conquered the basics, here are five recipes to get saucy over.

—Make It Classic—

For our classic tomato sauce and its variations, we splashed in some red wine vinegar, not only to add brightness but to also create a layer of depth and to round out the flavors of the other ingredients. Tough decisions had to be made, and we bypassed the addition of butter for this one (sorry, Hazan), sticking to olive oil only. For this basic sauce, Leonti suggests to look for "tomatoes that have been preserved in their own juices." As in, go for the stuff left whole, not crushed, diced or with garlic and spices already added in, as the results will be better if the ingredients are less processed.

¼ c olive oil + 1 finely chopped medium onion + 6 thinly sliced garlic cloves + pinch red pepper flakes + 1 basil sprig, plus extra for garnish + one 28-oz can whole peeled San Marzano tomatoes, crushed by hand + 3 tsp red wine vinegar + kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper + cooked spaghetti, for serving

In a medium saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic and crushed red pepper flakes, and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, 10 to 12 minutes. Add the basil, tomatoes and vinegar, and bring to a simmer. Lower the heat to medium low and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, 25 minutes. Remove the basil sprig and, using an immersion blender, blend the sauce until slightly smooth while retaining some texture. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with cooked spaghetti and garnish with basil.

—Make It Spicy—

This Roman preparation of tomato sauce, all'amatriciana, brings the heat (ciao, red pepper flakes) and extra comfort (buongiorno, pancetta). As for its perfect pasta pairing, Hazan reminds us in her book, "It's impossible to say 'all'amatriciana' without thinking bucatini. The two are as indivisible as Romeo and Juliet." But if you don't have access to bucatini, any other hollowed-out pasta shapes, such as penne or rigatoni, work just fine.

3 tbsp olive oil + 4 oz thinly sliced pancetta, cut into ½-inch pieces + 1 finely chopped medium onion + ½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes + one 28-oz can whole peeled San Marzano tomatoes, crushed by hand + 2 tsp red wine vinegar + kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper + cooked bucatini, for serving + grated Parmesan, for garnish

In a medium saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the pancetta and sauté until slightly crisp, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the onion and crushed red pepper flakes, and cook, stirring often, until softened, 8 minutes. Add the tomatoes and the vinegar, and bring to a simmer. Lower the heat to medium low and cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened, 25 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with cooked bucatini and garnish with Parmesan.

—Make It Briny—

Though traditionally served with spaghetti, we paired the southern Italian preparation known as puttanesca with penne due to all of its moving parts. Don't be afraid to go low and slow with this sauce—it takes time for all of the flavors to get to know each other. And because of the brininess of everything that goes into this dish, make the effort to taste for salt at each step.

3 tbsp olive oil + 4 thinly sliced garlic cloves + 6 anchovy fillets + one 28-oz can whole peeled San Marzano tomatoes, crushed by hand + 2 tsp red wine vinegar + 1 c pitted and crushed kalamata olives + 3 tbsp capers, rinsed + pepper + cooked penne, for serving + finely chopped parsley, for garnish

In a medium saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and anchovy fillets, and cook until the anchovies have melted and the garlic has softened, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes and the vinegar, and bring to a simmer. Lower the heat to medium low and cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 25 minutes. Stir in the olives and capers, then season with pepper. Serve with cooked penne and garnish with parsley.

—Make It Creamy—

Don't you dare roll your eyes at vodka sauce. A combination of vodka, cream and butter is perfect for those nights when you want something a little heartier. It's the ideal accompaniment to stuffed pastas, such as tortellini, or other baked pasta shell recipes.

3 tbsp butter + 3 tbsp olive oil + 1 finely chopped medium onion + 6 thinly sliced garlic cloves + pinch crushed red pepper flakes + 1 basil sprig + one 28-oz can whole peeled San Marzano tomatoes, crushed by hand + 3 tsp red wine vinegar + 3 tbsp vodka + ½ c heavy cream + salt and pepper + cooked tortellini, for serving

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter with the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic and crushed red pepper flakes, and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, 10 to 12 minutes. Add the basil, tomatoes, vinegar and vodka, and bring to a simmer. Lower the heat to medium low and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, 30 minutes. Remove the basil sprig and, using an immersion blender, blend the sauce until slightly smooth while retaining some texture. Stir in the heavy cream and season with salt and pepper. Serve with cooked tortellini.

—Make It Smoky—

TT food editor Jake Cohen adapted a short rib sugo recipe from a real-life Italian grandmother, Jacqueline Rubano. Patience is a virtue, and though you're in it for the long haul with this variation, the payoff is a sauce that perfectly balances the right amount of smoke with subtlety from the tomato.

¼ c olive oil + 1 lb (3 small) beef short ribs + kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper + 1 finely chopped medium onion + 4 thinly sliced garlic cloves + 4 c chicken stock + one 8-oz ham hock + one 28-oz can whole peeled San Marzano tomatoes, crushed by hand + 2 tsp red wine vinegar + 1 tsp dried oregano + 1 small basil sprig + cooked fusilli, for serving + grated Pecorino Romano, for garnish

In a medium saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Season the short ribs with salt and pepper, then sear until golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer the ribs to a platter and set aside. Add the onion and garlic, and cook over medium heat until softened, 8 minutes. Add the reserved short ribs, chicken stock, ham hock, tomatoes, vinegar, oregano and basil. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the meat is tender, 3 hours. Transfer the short ribs and ham hock to a plate and, using an immersion blender, blend the sauce until slightly smooth while retaining some texture. Once cool enough to handle, shred the meat, discarding any skin or bones, then stir back into the sauce. Serve with cooked fusilli and garnish with grated Pecorino Romano.

Find Prime Meats here, or in our DINE app.
Find Frankies 457 Spuntino here, or in our DINE app.
Find Frankies 570 Spuntino here, or in our DINE app.


Recipe Video

Let me guide you through the recipe with this step-by-step VIDEO.

Combine all the ingredients for the meatballs in a large bowl. Mix until just combined, using your hands. Roll the meat into 2 tablespoon-size balls.

In a large non-stick skillet, heat butter and 2 tbsp olive oil over medium heat. Add the meatballs and brown on all sides, about 10 minutes or until they’re cooked through, turning them 2-3 times. Add tomatoes, cook for 2-3 minutes, or until they start to burst. Transfer to a plate, leaving as much fat in the skillet as possible.

In the same skillet, add the remaining oil and onion. Cook for 5 minutes over low heat. Add garlic, cook for 2 minutes. Deglaze with 2 tbsp broth, and scrape the bottom with a wooden spoon to release the brown bits. Add seasoning and stir in tomato paste. Cook for 2 minutes. Add orzo and cook for 2 minutes more, stirring constantly.

Pour chicken broth, stir to combine and bring to a boil. Add tomato puree, give it a good stir, cover and let simmer for 15 minutes or until orzo is al dente. Stir from time to time.
Stir in the parsley and Parmesan. Then slide the meatballs and cherry tomatoes back into the skillet. Cover, lower the heat and cook for 5 minutes more. Taste and adjust salt.

Spoon the orzo and meatballs into bowls, top with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese, and more chopped parsley. Enjoy!

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If you try this recipe, let me know! Leave a comment and don’t forget to tag me in your picture on Instagram with @anna_s_table or mention with #servingdumplings I’d love to see what you’re making. Happy cooking!

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