Spaghetti with Meatballs

These days there is no limit to what food can become, to the heights (and breadth) that food can reach. You have food that looks like one thing, and tastes like another. You taste old flavors in new forms, and new flavors in old forms. Junk food becomes haute cuisine and the other way around. Instead of stews or braises, you have foam and pearls and flavored air. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against flavored air. It must surely be a step above the air I get outside my window that wafts up fragrantly from the city street below. I definitely applaud chefs that push the culinary envelope, reinventing the way we experience taste and flavor. It’s a whole new world out there, an exciting time to be alive and eating, and I for one, am all for rushing headlong into its newness, its mystique, and the discovery of new gastronomic frontiers.

But sometimes…sometimes. Sometimes, you need food that is like a warm blanket on a chilly night, food that is like a salve on a sore spot, the type of food that makes you feel better when a stupid boy breaks your heart or when the world seems full of thin girls. Forget the apples; comfort me with spaghetti and meatballs.

This is a dish we’ve made in my mother’s house countless times, and I now make in my own home. The recipe for the meatballs is what we have used since time forgotten for burgers, meatballs, even meatloaf. It is a half-breed mince-mix full of extenders…beef-purists look away! But I find that no other meat patty is as tender or as tasty. Of course, you may substitute your own favorite mince mixture.

Spaghetti with Meatballs

For the meatballs

  • 250 grams ground beef
  • 250 grams ground pork
  • ½ cup oats
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 egg
  • ½ teaspoon mustard
  • 1-2 tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper

  • For the Sauce
  • Olive oil
  • 4-5 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 400-gram cans chopped tomatoes
  • ½ cup white wine (or red, we’re not picky here)
  • Oregano (fresh if available or dried)
  • Thyme (fresh of available or dried)
  • Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper

    For the Noodles
  • 500 grams spaghetti noodles, prepared as per package instructions

    - First make the meatballs. Soak the oats in the milk until soft. Then add garlic, onion, egg, mustard, Worcestershire, salt, and pepper. Mix well. Add the ground meats to this and knead until just combined (don’t over mix!). Roll into balls of your desired size.
    - Heat some oil in a pan. Fry meatballs until nicely browned, then remove from pan and set aside.
    - In the same pan add a little more olive oil. Sauté garlic and onions until onions are soft and translucent. If your herbs are dried add them now (no measurements here, I just do it by feel. It all depends on how “herby” you want your sauce).
    - As soon as the aroma of the herbs hits your nose, pour in wine and stir.
    - Add chopped tomatoes. If your herbs are fresh add them now. Add salt and pepper to taste.
    - Return meatballs to pan and simmer until sauce reduces slightly.
    - Adjust seasoning if needed.
    - Pour the whole lot over your prepared noodles and serve.
    - Serve with freshly grated parmesan cheese and dried chili flakes for spice.

    This is perfect in a deep bowl and taken with you into the depths of your sofa on a stormy night when the world just won’t see things your way. It’s also great in large quantities, piled high on huge platters for big and boisterous family lunches when everyone is laughing and giddy. It is also particularly delicious when you’re curled up in your rattiest pyjamas with a really scary suspense novel.

    Whichever way, when I feel like life’s lights are whizzing by a little too quickly, and I get the urge to “sit this one out”, you’ll find me hidden in some quiet spot, wearing my “comfy clothes”, with a bowl of spaghetti and meatballs.

  • This is my entry to Presto Pasta Nights, a great new event brought to you by Ruth of Once Upon a Feast. She does a weekly roundup every Friday so we can all have delicious new pasta dishes in time for the weekend. Thanks Ruth!