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Spaghetti Meatballs and Tomato-Basil Sauce

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  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 1 hr 20 min
  • Prep: 30 min
  • Cook: 50 min
  • Yield: 4 meatballs per person for dipping with sauce.
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1/2 pound spaghetti, broken into pieces


1/4 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted

1 large bunch parsley, leaves only

1 bunch basil, leaves only

2/3 to 3/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, a couple of handfuls

2 cloves garlic, grated or finely chopped

Freshly ground black pepper

Extra-virgin olive oil, about 1/3 cup plus some for liberal drizzling

2 pounds ground sirloin

1 large egg

A couple handfuls bread crumbs

1 small onion, finely chopped

1 small carrot, finely chopped or grated

1 cup beef stock

1 (28-ounce) can tomatoes (recommended: San Marzano)


  1. Heat oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Bring a medium sauce pot of water to a boil over high heat, salt water and cook pasta to al dente 7 minutes or so, drain and quick-cool on a baking sheet.
  3. While pasta cooks, toast pine nuts. Make a thick herb pesto by placing the herbs, cheese, garlic and nuts in food processor with salt and pepper. Turn processor on and stream in about 1/3 cup olive oil - make the pesto very thick.
  4. Place meat in a bowl. Season the meat with salt and pepper. Add cooked pasta, egg, bread crumbs and half the pesto to the meat. Mix to combine and form into 16 balls, and place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Let the spaghetti pop out of meatballs like porcupine quills. Coat balls with a little olive oil and roast 12 to 15 minutes until firm and golden in color. Remove from the oven and place on a serving platter.
  5. While meat roasts heat a healthy drizzle olive oil in a sauce pot over medium-high heat. Add onions and carrots, season with salt and pepper, and saute for 5 minutes. Stir in the stock, add tomatoes and crush with the back of a wooden spoon. Cook for 5 minutes more, then stir in remaining pesto and transfer to a serving bowl or 4 individual ramekins for dipping.
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