Excellent Spaghetti and Meatballs


This recipe was from the Gourmet January 2009 issue which we revised with a more flavorful sauce.  I held onto it until our tomatoes were ready to pick from our garden to make homemade sauce.  We freeze tons of sauce for use throughout the year.  Everyone has their own sauce and additions to it so play around with it.  As for the meatballs, these were really amazing. I loved them a lot.  This recipe made so many we froze most of them after baking them in the oven a bit.   My husband said these rival his mother’s so that is something to say about these.  Enjoy!

Yield: Makes 12 to 16 servings

Active Time: 2 hr

Total Time: 3 hr

For tomato sauce:

  • 6 (28-ounce) cans whole tomatoes in juice (or fresh blanched tomatoes with skins removed)
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 Bay leaf
  • Fresh Basil and Oregano
  • Sprinkle of crushed red pepper flakes
  • Season to taste with salt and pepper
  • Cut down bitterness with some sugar to taste (you made need a lot if you have fresh tomatoes)

For meatballs:

  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 10 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 3 cups torn day-old Italian bread
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 6 large eggs
  • 2 cups grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (1/4 pound)
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped oregano or 1 teaspoon dried, crumbled
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground veal
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground pork
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef (not lean)
  • 1 cup olive or vegetable oil

For pasta:

  • 2 pounds dried spaghetti
  • Accompaniment: grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Equipment: a 12-to 16-quart nonreactive heavy pot or 2 smaller nonreactive pots; a 6-to 8-quart pasta pot with a pasta/steamer insert for cooking spaghetti in 2 batches.

Make sauce:

Drain tomatoes, reserving juice in a large bowl. Crush tomatoes with your hands and add to juice. Cook onions in oil in pot over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 2 minutes. Stir in tomatoes with their juice, 4 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper and rest of spices (basil, oregano, bay leaf).  Add sugar or Splenda to cut the bitterness down. Simmer sauce, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Season with salt.

Make meatballs while sauce simmers:

Cook onions in extra-virgin olive oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally,until softened, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl to cool.

Soak bread in milk in another bowl until soft, about 5 minutes. Firmly squeeze bread to remove excess milk, discarding milk. Stir together cooled onion mixture, bread, eggs, parmesan, parsley, oregano, lemon zest, 51/2 teaspoon salt, and 1 1/2 teaspoon pepper until combined. Add meats to bread mixture, gently mixing with your hands until just combined (do not overmix). Form meat mixture into about 70 (1 1/2-inch) balls with dampened hands, arranging meatballs on 2 large baking sheets or in shallow baking pans. Heat olive or vegetable oil (1 cup) in a 12-inch heavy skillet (preferably nonstick) over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking, then brown meatballs in 4 or 5 batches (without crowding), turning frequently, about 5 minutes per batch. Return to baking sheets. Add meatballs to sauce and gently simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, until cooked through, 20 to 30 minutes. (If pot is not large enough, divide meatballs and sauce between 2 pots.)

Prepare pasta:

Cook spaghetti in 2 batches in pasta insert in boiling salted water (3 tablespoon salt for 6 qt water) until just al dente, draining and tossing each batch with some of sauce in a large serving dish. Serve with meatballs, remaining sauce, and grated cheese.

delicious meatballs

Meatballs simmering in the sauce

fresh garlic bread

Lamb Burgers with Feta & Mint



Yummy Lamb Burgers


These burgers are the best! They can be grilled outside or inside in a grill pan.  For those of you who don’t have a grill pan, I got a $100 grill pan on ebay for $9!  You can find amazing things on ebay for your kitchen. I even got a 7-qt Mario Batali Dutch Oven for $40 on there!  I highly recommend this recipe. I thought I didn't like lamb so much but these are awesome!

Lamb Burgers

(6 servings-I would double this recipe (for lunch tomorrow))

  • 2 lbs ground lamb
  • 1/2 cup Greek or plain yoghurt
  • 1 TBSP dried savory
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • lemon zest (1 lemon)
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt +
  • ground pepper
  • 7oz feta cheese, crumbled
  • Olive oil, for brushing


  • 6+ wheat or white pita pockets (I toast them)
  • 1/2 red onion, sliced thin
  • 1-2 tomatoes, sliced thin
  • 1/2 cucumber, sliced thin
  • Fresh mint leaves
  • Tzatziki (recipe below)


(1cup, can be made the day before)

  • 2 cups of Greek or plain yoghurt
  • 1 cucumber, seeded and shredded
  • 2 tsp kosher salt +
  • 1/2 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 TBSP olive oil
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 dried mint, finely shredded

In a large bowl, mix the ground lamb, yoghurt, savory, garlic, zest, red pepper, 1 1/2 tsp salt and black pepper to taste. Mix in the feta, while trying not to break up the pieces so much. The feta imparts a nice juiciness to the meat after it’s cooked.  Shape into small balls and press your thumb in the middle so the middle is thinner than the edges.

Brush burgers with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
Grill burgers until firm to the touch and the juice runs clear. The cheese will sometimes burn on the pan making them a little brown but that’s the good part.

Serve the burgers with the sides and have your guests or family assemble how they want theirs. I like mine with mint leaves for sure this makes it nice and fresh.


Grate the cucumber on a box grater into another bowl. Sprinkle the cucumber with 2 tsp of salt and toss. Set aside for 20 minutes to get as much liquid out of them as possible.

Use straight Greek yoghurt (since it’s thicker and you don’t have to drain it). If you have to drain it put your plain yoghurt in a coffee filter overnight over a mug to drain the excess water out of it.

Add the cucumber to the yoghurt.

Add the garlic, salt to taste, oil, lemon juice and mint and stir to combine.

Refrigerate for about an hour so that the flavors combine.

Note: This can be made the day before.


Assembly tray of goodies


Lamb Burgers fresh from the pan
Lamb Burgers fresh from the pan