Spaghetti with Meatballs


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

Apples for Jam

Apples for Jam

By Tessa Kiros

Published 2010

  • About

If you’re organized, you could make the meatballs in tomato sauce the day before and just heat them up while you’re cooking the pasta. Once you have fried the meatballs, you will have some nice tasty oil with meaty bits in the saucepan. I like to sauté some just-parboiled spinach or even potatoes in this until they have mingled with the pan oil and drunk up the flavour. Serve the spinach as a side dish and then all you need is a couple of small scoops of ice cream for dessert and you’re settled.



  • 40–50 g(1½–2 oz) soft crustless white bread, torn into chunks
  • 4 tablespoons milk
  • 400 g(14 oz) minced (ground) pork and beef
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ small red onion
  • about 4 tablespoons light olive oil, for frying


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and squashed a bit
  • 400 g(14 oz) tinned diced tomatoes
  • 3 or 4 basil leaves, torn
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 350 g(12 oz) spaghetti
  • 30 g(1 oz) butter
  • grated parmesan cheese, to serve


For the meatballs, soak the bread in the milk in a small bowl, squishing it through your fingers so that it breaks up completely.

Put the mince in a large bowl with the parsley, cinnamon, cumin, the bread mixture and ½ teaspoon of salt. Grate in the onion (it is easier to do this holding the whole onion and then keeping the unused half for another time). Mix everything together thoroughly, kneading it with your hands as though it were a bread dough. Form about 25 small meatballs the size of large cherry tomatoes, rolling them between your palms so they are compact and smooth. Keep the made ones on a plate while you finish rolling the rest. Depending on their age, kids might like to help you with the rolling.

Heat the light olive oil in a non-stick frying pan and fry the meatballs in batches, making sure they are golden before you turn them. You should be able to shuffle them by holding the handle of the pan and giving a good flick with your wrist. If not, use tongs to turn them.

Meanwhile, make the sauce. Heat the oil in a large saucepan which will eventually also hold the meatballs. Add the garlic cloves and, when you can smell them, add the tomato. Season with salt, add the basil and simmer for 10 minutes or so. Break up the tomatoes with a wooden spoon as you stir from time to time.

When all the meatballs have been fried, add them to the tomato sauce and stir in about 250 ml(9 fl oz/1 cup) of water. Simmer uncovered for another 20–25 minutes, until the meatballs are soft and there is a fair amount of thickened sauce to toss into your pasta. Taste for salt, adjusting if necessary.

Cook the spaghetti in boiling salted water, following the packet instructions. Drain, return to the cooking pot and gently but thoroughly toss the butter through. Serve the pasta in individual bowls with a good ladleful of the tomato sauce, a few meatballs and a scattering of parmesan on top.