The other day I was watching America’s Test Kitchen on PBS and on air was their recipe for spaghetti and meatballs. I don’t know if I can blame it on a pregnancy craving or not but I tell you within 5 minutes of this show ending, I was lacing up my shoes, making a list and walking to the store for meatball ingredients. Isaac was out with a friend that morning, so I thought I’d surprise him with a hearty lunch when he returned.

I surprisingly had just about everything I needed in my kitchen with the exception of white bread, ground beef, ground pork and crushed tomatoes. A quick walk to our local grocery store, I was back and had this meal on the table in about an hour. I’ve only made spaghetti and meatballs a handful of times since we’ve been married and while scooping up the last of my meatball and twirling spaghetti on my fork I wondered why I don’t make it more often. It’s incredibly simple although does require a couple tedious steps (ie: rolling the meatballs one by one) but even that took about 5 minutes. To me this is comfort food. And oh my did it ever comfort us on the cool weekend.

I still am not sure if I’m ready to give the baby credit for this one, but if he/she did, they are a kid after my own heart already.

Spaghetti & Meatballs
Recipe from America’s Test Kitchen


  • 2 slices white sandwich bread, crust removed
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk
  • 3/4 pound (80% lean) ground beef
  • 1/4 pound ground pork (spicy Italian pork sausage would be wonderful as well)
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 2 T fresh parsley, minced
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil

Tomato Sauce:

  • 3 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes with basil
  • 3 T fresh basil, chopped
  • Salt & pepper to taste

For the meatballs:

Combine bread and buttermilk in small bowl and let stand, mashing occasionally with fork, until smooth paste forms, about 10 minutes. Place ground meat, cheese, parsley, egg yolk, garlic, salt, and pepper to taste in medium bowl. Add bread-milk mixture and combine until evenly mixed. Shape 3 tablespoons of mixture into 1 1/2-inch-round meatball. You should be able to form about 12 – 14 meatballs. Pour olive oil into a saute pan over medium-high heat. Add meatballs in single layer. Fry, turning several times, until nicely browned on all sides, about 10 minutes. Regulate heat as needed to keep oil sizzling but not smoking. Transfer browned meatballs to plate lined with paper towels and set aside.

For the sauce:

Meanwhile, discard oil in pan but leave behind any browned bits. Add olive oil for tomato sauce along with garlic and sauté over medium heat, scraping up browned bits, just until garlic is golden, about 30 seconds. Add tomatoes, bring to boil, and simmer gently until sauce thickens, about 10 minutes. Stir in basil and salt and pepper to taste. Add meatballs and simmer, turning them occasionally, until heated through, about 5 minutes. Keep warm over low flame.

In a separate pot, add pasta to boiling water. Cook until al dente, drain, and return to pot. Serve immediately with grated cheese on top and minced parsley.

Images: sammyw