Who says Spaghetti Meatballs are not truly Italian

Among the many Italian food recipes that are not from Italy at all, Spaghetti meatballs belongs to my childhood (YES, I know – shocking!). I have no clue where Alfredo got the Fettuccini from, or where Ceasar found his salad, and absolutely no idea of where all that garlic came from!

I am growing convinced that when there was no Internet and people would travel far away from their hometown, they at least tried to recreate that comfort they missed so much. And good food for Italians is more like a visceral need than anything else. It must have been some Sicilian nonna’s grandson who fooled the world saying spaghetti meatballs was a traditional Italian specialty. Alessia Gargiulo with Swide got it right: no Italian family will welcome you with spaghetti with meatballs for Sunday lunch. It’s nothing like Lasagna, Pizzoccheri, Polenta or any kind of fresh pasta or gnocchi with raguMy nonna would cook “Spaghetti con le polpette” for lunch on a weekday, not to waste that ground meat she had sitting in the fridge. And she would make it with freshly grated Parmigiano, bread crumbs, one egg, minced parsley, a pinch of salt and a sprinkle of pepper. Same recipe as her rustic hamburgers, only ball-shaped, fairly generous in size… and served with spaghetti!


Nonna’s Authentic Spaghetti with Meatballs (2 people)

Grocery Shopping

For the tomato sauce
1 lb of San Marzano or Campari Tomatoes*
2 tbsp of EVOO
6/8 leaves of Basil
1 clove of Garlic
1 bay leaf
Salt & Pepper

*you can even used packaged peeled San Marzano tomatoes or organic tomatoes. Make sure you get them in tetra pak, glass or in BPA-free can. Chopped, strained, even passata is good. For passata add some extra water. 

For the meatballs
0.3 of grass-fed ground beef
0.3 of all-natural ground pork
1 salamella / salsiccia link / fresh bratwurst (see here)
1 egg
freshly grated Parmigiano or Grana Padano
fine bread crumbs
freshly minced organic Italian parsley

plus 5 oz of spaghetti DeCecco


1) Start with the tomato sauce.

  • If you have fresh tomatoes:Wash the tomatoes, cut them in half and put them into a sauce pan over medium heat. They will start releasing water and smash in about 5-6 minutes. Remove from heat, pass them in the food mill and let stand.
  • If you have packaged tomatoes: Pass them in the food mill or in a chopper.

Warm olive oil with garlic in another sauce pan over medium heat. When garlic is golden, add the tomato sauce. Break the basil leaves and bay leaf with you hands and throw them in. Add salt & pepper and let it cook for 10 minutes until it thickens a bit.

2) Meanwhile, prepare the meatballs. In a bowl, mix the ground meat with the salsiccia. Add the egg, Parmigiano, and fine bread crumbs. Mince parsley and throw it in. Mix throughly. Form little balls of the size of a baby potato. Warm a tbsp of olive oil in a wok and add the meatballs. Let them cook for 5-6 minutes until they’re golden on the outside.

3) Add the sauce to the wok with the meatballs and let it cook for 15-20 minutes.

4) Fill a pot with 2/3 of salted water, bring it to boil and add spaghetti.

5) When spaghetti are ‘al dente’, drain pasta and plate it up with some sauce and meatballs on top. >> To make it even tastier: drain pasta and put it again into the empty pot. Add some tomato sauce and stir. Only then, plate it up and add more tomato sauce on top, meatballs and some grated Parmigiano! :) Enjoy, folks!


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