Splurge Alert: Spaghetti & Meatballs with Homemade Red Sauce

I can’t tell you the last time I indulged in spaghetti and meatballs… until last night. This recipe takes a little bit of effort but man, are the results so worth it. I recommend preparing a batch whenever you feel like a big bowl of comfort!

Mitch and I came to Dekalb, IL to visit my brother, his wife and their (my niece!) 7 month old baby girl. On our first full day here, it snowed majority of the day which was fun and unfamiliar for us who live in Texas. Although there were some crazy winter storms which went through Texas this year, it’s still different for us to be in a climate where it’s snowing with frigid temps mid-March. I was wearing a bikini and sun-bathing a week ago. Fortunately for me, I don’t mind the cold because it gives me a chance to bust out the gloves, coats and fashionable winter boots that I don’t get to wear enough of in Texas!

Since it was snowing all day, I wanted us to have a big bowl of comfort for dinner which would give us all of the warm, cozy vibes. What’s better than a bowl of pasta? Better yet, spaghetti with homemade meatballs and red sauce? Topped with lots of freshly grated parmesan cheese and freshly chopped basil and parsley… it really doesn’t get better than that. This meatball recipe was actually brought to our attention by my brother who is a big fan of The Godfather film series. *Disclosure: I’ve never seen The Godfather.* I learned about the important character Peter Clemenza and how he had a special spaghetti sauce with homemade meatballs. So we decided to replicate the recipe but give it a little touch of our own.

Firstly, the recipe calls for three different kinds of meats: ground beef, ground pork and veal. Personally, I don’t eat veal because I love baby cows too much so we substituted the veal for ground turkey. Plus, ground turkey is super lean and although this recipe is quite rich and indulgent, I figured we can try to be somewhat healthy, right? Secondly, we tweaked some other ratios from the original meatball recipe such as adding more spices and fresh herbs. That’s what cooking is, you know? Getting inspiration from a recipe and making it into your own version.

I promise you, this meatball recipe is SO.WORTH.IT.

Sometimes, you just need a splurge dish and for me, this is it. I recommend eating this amazing meal with the people you love… there’s nothing like dinner time with your loved ones.



Spaghetti & Meatballs with Red Sauce

Get ready to indulge with this delicious, classic Italian meal.
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 2 hrs
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Servings 20 meatballs


  • Large Baking Sheet
  • Large Pot
  • Large Mixing Bowl
  • Microplane
  • Cutting Board & Chef's Knife



  • 1/2 lb Ground Round Beef
  • 1/2 lb Ground Italian Sausage
  • 1/2 lb Ground Turkey
  • 3/4 cup Italian Breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup Ricotta Cheese
  • 1/3 cup Parmesan
  • 1 Egg
  • 1/2 bunch Curly Parsley chopped
  • 1/4 cup Fresh Basil chopped
  • 1 Tbsp Garlic minced
  • 2 tsp Kosher Salt
  • 1 tsp Freshly Ground Black Pepper

Red Sauce

  • 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 small Yellow Onion small dice
  • 1 Tbsp Garlic minced
  • 12 oz Tomato Paste
  • 1/3 cup Dry Red Wine
  • 28 oz Whole Peeled Tomatoes
  • 8 oz Chicken Broth
  • 1 Tbsp Sugar or to taste
  • Kosher Salt & Freshly Ground Black Pepper to taste
  • 1 lb Spaghetti Noodles
  • Fresh Parmesan Cheese garnish
  • Fresh Chopped Parlsey & Basil garnish


  • Begin with the meatballs: Thoroughly (but do not over-mix) combine all meatball ingredients into a large mixing bowl.
  • Using clean hands, form each meatball into 1.5 oz balls. *If you don't have a scale to weigh each meatball, no worries! Simply make sure each meatball is uniform in size.*
  • Heat a medium saute pan with 1 Tbsp olive oil over medium heat. Saute the meatballs until the outside is crispy and browned- leaving the inside raw as it will continue to cook in the sauce.
  • In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat 2 Tbsp olive oil over medium heat.
  • Add the diced onion and cook until tender, about 8-10 minutes.
  • Add the garlic and cook until fragrant & softened, about 2 minutes.
  • Add the tomato paste and caramelize, cooking for 6-8 minutes until lightly browned. *The color should change from bright red to brick red.*
  • Next, deglaze the pot with red wine. Cook until the wine reduces by half.
  • Add the whole peeled tomatoes along with their juices, followed by the chicken broth.
  • Allow the contents to reach a steady simmer before adding the meatballs to the pot.
  • Turn the heat to low and cover partially with a lid. Cook low & slow for 2 hours, stirring frequently.
  • Remove all meatballs from the sauce and transfer to a baking sheet. Set aside.
  • Back to the sauce: crank the heat up to high and reduce until thickened, about 15 minutes. Season the sauce with salt & pepper to taste.
  • Return the meatballs to the sauce and reduce the heat to low. Cover with a lid.
  • Cook the noodles according to package directions.
  • Add noodles to a bowl and top with lots of delicious sauce and homemade meatballs.
  • Garnish with LOTS of fresh parmesan cheese, basil and parlsey.
  • Grab your utensils, pour yourself a glass of red (or whatever beverage you prefer), and DIG IN!!


You can skip sautéing the meatballs if you wish to save time. Simply drop the meatballs into the sauce while it cooks for 2 hours.
Heat the oven to 350 degrees and cook the meatballs for 20-25 minutes before adding to the sauce to finish cooking. 
Fact: to caramelize tomato paste means to concentrate the natural sugars in the paste. Adding tomato paste raw into your sauces and stews will only give off a raw, tart flavor. Tomato paste is meant to be added during the initial cooking process and it should be caramelized so the sugars break down. 
For a low-carb friendly version of this meal, cook zoodles (zucchini noodles) instead of spaghetti noodles. You can also add gluten free breadcrumbs to the meatball mixture. 

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