This easy spaghetti and meatball recipe has an oven roasted tomato sauce that helps concentrate the flavor without a lot of work! (Jump directly to the recipe.)
It’s January and I feel like I should be doing a cleanse of some sort. Drinking green smoothies, eating a lot of kale and pretending to like breakfast porridge with bee pollen and whole grain millet. But honestly I didn’t “indulge” the way that most people do during the holidays. In fact, I didn’t go overboard eating cookies and cakes at all (though I did bake up a storm) and Christmas dinner was relatively mellow for me – probably because I had a cold and not much of an appetite. And as San Francisco moves into the new year, it has gotten colder here, which means I’ve been craving more comfort food. A quick flip through the cookbook Chuck’s Day Off (based off the Canadian Cooking Channel TV show) found me craving spaghetti and meatballs recipe with oven roasted tomato sauce.
There’s probably a million variants of spaghetti and meatballs out there and I can’t say that Chuck’s is the absolutely best I’ve ever had. But it’s pretty darn close and oven roasting out-of-season tomatoes definitely works for the wintertime. I’m usually an eat in-season sort of person but since I live in San Francisco, I kind of fudge a bit now and then. Buying tomatoes from Mexico probably aren’t a great idea, but with a little of oven love (and a touch of canned tomato paste) the sauce turned out perfect for a cold evening. Plus Mexico is PRACTICALLY next door to California so it’s sort of local…or so I tell myself.
But honestly the recipe kind of just called out to me. Comfort food has a way of doing that. Maybe it’s just my Midwestern roots of mine. It also helps that the recipe is pretty darn easy to make, with the most time consuming part being the forming the actual meatballs. The recipe makes a lot meatballs in fact. I probably could have halved the meatball recipe but surplus meatballs are never a problem for me or for my partner AJ. I’ll just start my cleanse in February sometime. Or maybe not. The weather doesn’t stay super cold here in San Francisco all that long. Might as well take advantage of it and just dive into this spaghetti and meatballs recipe.
Disclosure: I received some Kerrygold Dubliner cheese for a party that I hosted over the holidays and had a couple of bricks leftover so I used it in this recipe. I was not monetarily compensated for this post and all opinions are my own. But for what it’s worth, I do happen to really love Kerrygold Dubliner (it’s like a cross between Cheddar and Parmesan cheese) and probably would have gone out and bought it if I didn’t have any leftover from the party!
Spaghetti and Meatballs Recipe with Oven Roasted Tomato Sauce
By Irvin Lin
Don’t be intimidated by this long list of ingredients, as this is easy spaghetti and meatball recipe is mostly “walk away” time with the sauce and meatballs cooking in the oven. The oven roasting concentrates the tomato sauce flavor and gives it a touch of roasting smokiness. Because tomatoes aren’t in season in the wintertime, I added a can of tomato paste to give it a little more flavor but if tomatoes are in season, taste the sauce first to see if you need the paste. You might not! The addition of fish sauce to the recipe is going to sound weird but trust me when I say that you don’t taste it at all. What you do get is a deeper umami savory flavor from the fish sauce. If you don’t have fish sauce, just skip that part but if you have some floating in the back of your fridge, pull it out and try it. You’ll be surprised at how much it adds to the tomato sauce.
Adapted from Chuck’s Day Off by Chuck Hughes
Oven Roasted Tomato Sauce
2 1/2 lbs (8-10 medium size) Roma tomatoes
2 medium yellow onions
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
Black pepper, fresh cracked
1 medium head of garlic
1/2 bunch of fresh basil
6 oz can tomato paste
1/2 cup dry red wine
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon fish sauce (optional, see headnote above)
1/2 cup panko crumbs or bread crumbs
1/4 cup whole milk
1 lb ground beef
1 lb ground pork
1 lb ground veal
2 medium shallots, finely chopped
4 medium garlic cloves, minced
1/2 bunch fresh basil, chopped
1/2 bunch fresh oregano, chopped
1 bunch fresh chives, chopped
1/2 cup finely grated Kerrygold Dubliner, Parmesan or Pecorino cheese
3 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper, fresh cracked
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
4 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 lb spaghetti
fresh grated Kerrygold Dubliner, Parmesan or Pecorino cheese
finely chopped parsley
1. Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Slice the tomatoes in half lengthwise. Peel and quarter the onions. Place them on a rimmed baking sheet and drizzle 2 tablespoons of olive oil over the tomatoes and onions. Sprinkle generously with kosher salt and black pepper. Roast in the oven for 30 minutes. In the meanwhile, cut the top off of the head of garlic and place it in the middle of a square of aluminum foil. Drizzle the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil over the garlic head then sprinkle generously with kosher salt and pepper. Fold the foil over garlic and seal tightly. Once the 30 minutes are up, open up the oven and place the garlic in the middle of the pan (moving some of the tomatoes and onions aside to make room). Close the oven door and continue to roast for 30-45 minutes more (a total of 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes) or until the tomatoes start to look dry and wrinkly on top and onion quarts look soft.
2. While the tomatoes, onions and garlic are roasting, make the meatballs by placing the panko crumbs and milk in a large mixing bowl. Let the crumbs soak the milk in, then add the beef, pork and veal. Using your hands mix the bread crumbs with the meat together until evenly distributed. Add the shallots, garlic, herbs, cheese, mustard, paprika, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Mix with your hands until everything is evenly distributed. Scoop out a heaping tablespoon of the meat mixture and form a meatball about the size of a golf ball. Place on a rimmed baking sheet and continue to form meatballs, until you’ve used up all the meat mixture. You should have about 50-60 meatballs on two rimmed baking sheets. Drizzle each the meatballs with the olive oil, about two tablespoons per baking sheet. Once the tomatoes are done roasting, remove from the oven and place the meatballs in the oven for 30 minutes, or until the meatballs are cooked through.
3. Let the tomatoes, onions and garlic cool on the baking sheet for 15 minutes, then peel the tomatoes and place them in food processor or blender. Add the onions to the processor. Then remove the garlic head from the foil and squeeze the roasted garlic from the skin into the processor. Place the fresh basil in the processor and then puree the entire mixture on high speed until smooth. Empty the entire content of the sauce in a large pan on the stove. Add the tomato paste, dry red wine and dried herbs, red pepper flakes and fish sauce to the puree and heat on medium heat, stirring. Taste and add some salt and pepper to taste. Let the sauce simmer on low heat covered until the meatballs are done.
4. Once the meatballs are done, remove them from the oven and using tongs, move the balls to the sauce. Stir to cover the meatballs and cover again to let simmer. Boil a pot of salty water (taste the water, it should be as salty as the ocean) and make the spaghetti as per the instructions on the package. Once the spaghetti is cooked, drain and serve immediately with the sauce and meatballs. Garnish with grated cheese and parsley.
Serves 6 people.
If you like this spaghetti and meatballs recipe, check out some of these of meatball recipes from around the web.
My Mediterranean Meatballs Recipe
David Lebovitz’ Cranberry Glazed Meatballs
Orangette’s Falafel-Spiced Lamb Meatballs
The Slow Roasted Italian’s Bacon Jalapeño Popper Meatballs
Gimme Some Oven’s Saucy Asian Meatballs
Shutterbean’s Grilled Turkey Meatball Subs