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Homemade SpaghettiO’s With Meatballs

Homemade SpaghettiO's (1)

What’s better than reliving one of your favorite childhood meals. You know the one I’m talking about, SpaghettiO’s with meatballs! Well, I’ve recreated a Homemade SpaghettiO’s With Meatballs for you, and its super easy to make.

Making homemade sauce and meatballs takes this to dish to a grown-up level that will definitely surprise your guests. I’m also adding a couple of secret ingredients to the meatballs that are going to blow your mind!

Let’s start by making the meatballs and getting them into the oven before working on the sauce.

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Flat Leaf Italian Parsley

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The first secret ingredient for my meatballs is fresh basil pesto. Normally I wouldn’t use a store-bought basil pesto however, in this instance, I’m using it as one of the ingredients for my meatballs. If you’re going to add basil pesto to your meatballs, look for the fresh pesto that’s kept in the refrigerated section of the grocery store, rather than the jarred variety.

In some of my earlier posts, I’ve mentioned using basil pesto in my meatball recipes and it really elevates the flavor. When you think about it, they’re really ingredients you would most likely add to your meatball recipe.

The second secret ingredient I’m using is whole milk ricotta cheese. Ricotta doesn’t add any noticeable flavor but it definitely acts as a tenderizer.

Note:
Anytime you want to make meatballs start with the flavorings in a large mixing bowl first. You want the flavoring mixture to have the consistency of wet sand. Next, you’ll add your choice of ground meat and combine. I use a fork to slowly combine the wet flavoring mixture to the ground meat. Keep the ground meat as loose as possible, do not over mix. This will ensure you’ll have super tender meatballs.

Below are three “portion scoops” better-known as cookie/ice cream scoops. The cookie-dough scoop in the middle is equivalent to 1 1/2 tablespoons and perfect for my mini meatballs. Relatively speaking that’s half the size of a golf ball.

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Sweet Basil (2)

fresh basil

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Homemade SpaghettiO's (2)

Homemade SpaghettiO's (1)

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 50 minutes
Yields: 6 servings
Equipment: 2 baking sheets, lined with parchment paper, 2 (6-quart) saucepots, cookie-dough scoop

Ingredients For Meatballs: Yields 48 meatballs
2 pounds ground pork, substitute ground beef, chicken, or turkey
2 extra-large eggs, room temperature
1/4 cup half-and-half, room temperature
1/4 cup water, room temperature
1/4 cup Ricotta cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup of a fresh store-bought basil pesto
5 dashes Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons ketchup
1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, freshly grated
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1/4 cup of Italian flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
1 to 1 1/2 cups of Italian breadcrumbs, Italian-style
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Ingredients For Sauce:
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1 (15-ounce) can of fire-roasted diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 tablespoons dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 large onion diced
2 cloves minced garlic
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 cup chicken stock, unsalted
3 tablespoons fresh basil leaves,  reserve extra sprigs of basil for garnish
1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, freshly grated for the cooked pasta
2 (1-pound) packages of La Molisana pasta

Directions For Meatballs:
Preheat oven to 350-degrees F.
Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and spray them both with non- stick cooking spray.
Start by placing all the flavorings for the meatballs into a large mixing bowl. When blending in the bread crumbs, start with 1 cup, add an additional 1/2 cup if needed. The finished consistency should look like (and have the texture of) wet sand.

Add the (your choice of) ground chicken. Using a fork to combine the flavorings and meat together, do not over mix.

NOTE: If the ground meat starts to stick to the ice cream scoop, spray with a little non- stick cooking spray and the meat will release easier.

Scoop the meat mixture into your hands, roll into balls, then place the meatballs on the greased parchment paper-lined baking sheets. Each baking sheet should hold 24 meatballs. For nice golden brown meatballs, spray the tops of the meatballs with a little non-stick cooking spray. Bake for 45 minutes.

Directions For Sauce:
While the meatballs are in the oven, start the sauce. On med-high heat add the olive oil to a heavy bottom pot. Add in the onions, cook for 1 to 2 minutes, or until translucent. Add the minced garlic, Kosher salt, black pepper, crushed red pepper flakes, oregano, basil, brown sugar, and tomato paste. Cook for 2 minutes. Next, add the chicken stock. Let the stock come up to a bubble and reduce by half. Once the stock has reduced, add in the tomato products. Turn the heat down to medium-low and let simmer until the meatballs come out of the oven.

After the meatballs come out of the oven, add them to the sauce. Simmer the sauce for another 45 minutes.

In a large stockpot of boiling salted water add the pasta. Cook according to the directions on the package. In a large serving bowl, add the well-drained cooked pasta. Add 1/2 cup of freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and toss through. Ladle the sauce with meatballs over the pasta and toss through. Add fresh basil leaves.

Serve tableside into individual porcelain pasta bowls. Garnish each bowl with sprigs of fresh basil. Have extra cheese on hand for your guests. There you have it my Homemade SpaghettiO’s With Meatballs.

This meatball and tomato sauce recipe works with any style of pasta you choose.

Linguine With Meatballs

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Pappardelle With Chicken Sausage Meatballs

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Thanks to my mom and grandmother, I’ve learned so much about the art of making great meatballs. The one important thing that they both told me was not to overwork the meat when adding in the flavorings. Well, keeping that in mind, I went one better. I came to the conclusion, that if you mix all the wet ingredients along with the spices first, then add in the meat, there was less likelihood of over mixing. This is my Pappardelle With Chicken Sausage Meatballs. 

Flat Leaf Italian Parsley

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Sweet Basil (2)

fresh basil

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Prep Time: 30 minutes (time includes making the meatballs and dicing the onions and garlic for the sauce)
Cook Time For Meatballs: 25 minutes
Cook Time For Tomato Sauce: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Yields: 22 golf-size meatballs
Equipment: 2 rimmed baking sheet pans lined with parchment paper, large 6-quart Dutch oven,6-quart saucepot,  2 large mixing bowls, colander, cookie-dough scoop, olive oil cooking spray

Ingredients For Meatballs:
olive oil cooking spray
1 pound of sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
1 pound of ground chicken
1/4 cup of fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
1/4 cup of fresh store-bought basil pesto (store-bought fresh pesto can be found in the refrigerated section where you find the fresh pasta and sauces)
1/4 cup of  Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, freshly grated
1 tablespoon of dried oregano
1 teaspoon of fennel seeds
1 tablespoon of Kosher salt
1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
1 cup of plain Panko bread crumbs
1/2 a cup of seasoned Italian bread crumbs
3 cloves of garlic, freshly grated
2 large eggs, beaten
5 dashes of Worcestershire sauce
1/3 cup of Ricotta cheese, room temperature
1 cup of half-and-half (start with 3/4 cup until you get the consistency of wet sand)

Ingredients For Tomato Sauce:
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 diced onion
3 cloves of minced garlic
1 tablespoon of Kosher salt
1 teaspoon of fresh ground black pepper
1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons of tomato paste
1 tablespoon of dried oregano
1 tablespoon of light brown sugar
1 cup of unsalted chicken broth
1 (28-ounce) can of San Marzano whole tomatoes
1 (28-ounce) can of crushed tomatoes
1 cup of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, freshly grated for the pasta (reserve some for garnish)
1/4 cup of fresh basil, julienned

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375-degrees F.
Start in a large mixing bowl, by adding all the ingredients that will flavor the meat, mix to combine. The mixture needs to have the consistency of wet sand as shown in the above picture.

In another large mixing bowl, containing the ground chicken (a mixture of dark and white meat) and sweet Italian sausage add the flavoring mixture. Use a fork to evenly distribute the flavoring mixture throughout the meat. It does take a minute, but it will ensure there’s no chance the meat will become compacted compared to if you were to use your hands to combine the ingredients.

To ensure the meatballs are the same size use a large cookie-dough scoop as seen in the above picture. This yielded about 22 golf-size ball meatballs. On two rimmed baking sheet pans lined with parchment paper lightly spray olive oil cooking spray. Scoop out the meatball mixture and roll them into golf-size meatballs. Arrange the meatballs at least 1 1/2 inches apart. Spray the tops of the meatballs with a little of the olive oil cooking spray to ensure they brown nicely. Bake for 25 minutes.

Tip: Use the cooking spray, (a light spritz) to lubricate the cookie-dough scoop every so often. This will ensure the easy release of the meat mixture.

In the meantime in a large saucepot over medium heat, add olive oil and diced onions. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onions become translucent, 3 to 5 minutes.  To the onions, add the minced garlic, tomato paste, dried oregano, red pepper flakes, Kosher salt, and fresh ground black pepper. Continue stirring, cook for another 1 to 2 minutes

Next, add the chicken broth. Let that come up to a bubble and simmer for a couple of minutes before adding the crushed and whole tomatoes. Using the back of a wooden spoon break up the whole tomatoes. Next, add brown sugar, stir to combine. Bring the sauce up to a bubble, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally.

Once the meatballs come out of the oven, transfer them to the sauce and let everything simmer together on medium-low heat for another 45 minutes. Remove from the heat add the fresh julienned basil, gently stir to combine. Cover to keep warm. After 45 minutes, start cooking the pasta.

In a large saucepot of boiling salted water drop the pasta.

I love to use Pappardelle for this dish. The wide ribbons of pasta have so much more surface area for the sauce to adhere to. Follow the cooking instructions. Drain the pasta really well.  Add a cup of freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese into the bottom of a large mixing bowl tossing the cheese through the pasta, very gently, so all those ribbons get coated really well. Then add a couple of ladles full of the tomato sauce, using a pair of tongs toss to combine. What you are witnessing is the cheese sticking to the pasta and the sauce sticks to the cheese. Win-Win!

Finally, I finish with ladling the meatballs on top with a bit more sauce, and a little more cheese. Serve with some crusty cheese bread and garnish with fresh basil. This is my Pappardelle With Chicken Sausage Meatballs.

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Ribollita With Chicken Sausage Meatballs

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I’m giving this traditional Italian vegetable soup a makeover. I’ve added chicken sausage meatballs to what was an already perfect soup. Now it’s even heartier. This is my Ribollita With Chicken Sausage Meatballs.

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Fennel

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Flat Leaf Italian Parsley

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Cookie Dough Scoops

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Kale

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Olive Oil

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Chicken Broth

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E.V.O.O.

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Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time 48 to 50 minutes minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Yields: 6 servings
Equipment: 10-cup food processor, 1 (6-quart) saucepot, cookie dough scoop, 2 rimmed baking sheet pans, Microplane, mesh sieve

Ingredients For Chicken Sausage Meatballs:
1 pound of ground chicken breasts
1 large egg
2 tablespoons of Italian flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
1/2 cup of seasoned Italian bread crumbs
1/4 cup of heavy cream
5 dashes of Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, freshly grated
1 tablespoon of Kosher salt
1 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons of dried oregano
1 tablespoon of fennel seeds

Ingredients For Ribollita:
3 tablespoons of olive oil
1/2 diced onion
1/4 pound of pancetta, diced
1 cup of (leafy-top) carrots (2 medium-size carrots), diced
3 ribs of celery (1 cup), diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 (15-ounce) cans of Cannellini beans, 1 (15-ounce) can drain and rinsed, 1 (15-ounce) can purée
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon of Kosher salt
1 teaspoon of fresh ground black pepper
1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon of nutmeg freshly
1 (28-ounce) can of San Marzano whole tomatoes
2 quarts of chicken stock, unsalted
1/2 cup of chopped fresh basil leaves
3 cups of chopped kale
3 cups of Savoy cabbage, chopped
5 slices of good sourdough bread, crusts removed
1/2 a cup of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, freshly grated
*E.V.O.O for drizzling over the top of each bowl

Directions For Chicken Meatballs:
Preheat oven to 375-degrees F.
Line two rimmed baking sheet pans with parchment paper. Spray each one with non-stick cooking spray.

In al large mixing bowl add all the ingredients from the list above, except the ground chicken, mix to combine. Add the ground chicken last. Using a fork, combine all the ingredients (flavorings) throughout the ground chicken. Do not overmix.

Note: Every few scoops of the meat mixture spray the inside of the scoop with non-stick cooking spray for easy removal. After forming a few meatballs, lightly spritz your hands with warm tap water. This will give your meatballs a smoother texture.

Using a cookie dough scoop, scoop the meat mixture into your hands to form the meatballs. Lightly spray the tops of all the meatballs with non-stick cooking spray. Bake for 20 minutes.

While the meatballs are cooking, use this time to prep all the vegetables from the list above. Once you’ve prepped the veggies the meatballs should be ready to come out of the oven. Set the two trays of meatballs aside.

Start the Ribollita.
Over medium heat, add the olive oil and diced onions. Sauté until soft and translucent but not brown. Add crushed red pepper flakes and diced pancetta, cook for 3 to 5 minutes.

Next, add the diced carrots, celery, and bay leaf stir to combine. Add the minced garlic, Kosher salt, and freshly ground black pepper. Stirring occasionally, cook together for 10 minutes until the veggies start to soften. At this point, add the whole canned tomatoes with their juice. Use a wooden spoon, break up the tomatoes.

Next, add the chopped cabbage and kale, and freshly grated nutmeg, cook for another 5 to 7 minutes until the greens wilt down. Turn the heat down to medium-low, add the puréed Cannellini beans, stir to combine. Next, add the whole beans, again stir to combine.

Pour in the unsalted chicken stock. This is the point when you add the cooked meatballs. Still on medium-low heat simmer for another 15 minutes. At this point add in the cubed bread and continue simmering for another 10 minutes. The bread will dissolve and thicken the soup. The Ribollita With Chicken Sausage Meatballs is done at this point. Turn the heat off add the fresh basil leaves, stir to combine.

To Serve:
Ladle a good helping of the Ribollita into large porcelain soup or pasta bowl. Add a nice helping of the freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Finally. lightly drizzle your best *E.V.O.O on top. I promise, if you love really good soup or a delicious stew, I would say try making my Ribollita With Chicken Sausage Meatballs.

*E.V.O.O. is the acronym for extra virgin olive oil.

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