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Valentine's Day Recipe: Spaghetti and Meatballs

Spaghetti and Meatballs
Photo: Maria Zizka

Spaghetti and Meatballs

To channel the romance of Lady and the Tramp on Valentine's Day, serve a single heaping plate of spaghetti and meatballs. Even if you're not angling for an accidental kiss, these meatballs are sure to warm anyone's heart. The tomato sauce, which is based on Marcella Hazan's extraordinary recipe, is made directly in the skillet that the meatballs are browned in.

Serves 4 - 6

½ cup breadcrumbs
¼ cup milk
1 yellow onion, peeled
3 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 large egg
1 pound lean ground beef
½ pound sweet Italian sausage, squeezed out of its casing
½ cup chopped parsley, plus more for sprinking
1/3 cup grated Parmigiano, plus more for sprinkling
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 28-ounce can whole, peeled tomatoes
4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter
1 pound spaghetti
Kosher salt

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Place the breadcrumbs in a large bowl and pour the milk over them. Let the breadcrumbs soak for a few minutes.

Chop ½ of the onion into very small pieces, then add them to the bowl along with the garlic, egg, beef, sausage, parsley, Parmigiano, red pepper, and ¾ teaspoon salt. Using both hands, mix well, then form into golf-ball-size balls. (There will be about 24).

Heat a large skillet over medium heat for 1 minute. Swirl in the olive oil, then place half the meatballs into the skillet. Brown them well on all sides, shaking the pan to rotate them, about 6 minutes. Transfer the cooked meatballs to a plate, and brown the second half in the skillet. Transfer the second batch of meatballs to the plate, but keep the skillet on the stove and reduce the heat to low. Carefully pour in the tomatoes and all of their juices--they will splatter a bit!--and add the butter and ½ teaspoon salt. Cut the remaining ½ onion into two pieces and add them to the skillet. Adjust the heat so that the tomato sauce gently simmers. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 35 - 40 minutes. Every so often, use the back of the spoon to break up the tomatoes.

Fish out the two big onion pieces from the sauce and discard them. Add the meatballs to the sauce and let them heat up for several minutes. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Drop in the spaghetti and cook until al dente. Serve the spaghetti with the meatballs and tomato sauce on top, sprinkling a little chopped parsley and grated Parmigiano over each plate.

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