I’ve never been a huge fan of spaghetti and meatballs. I’m not a huge meat eater and I’ve never loved pasta with red sauce. I know, I’m an oddball. But I was watching Food Network yesterday (as I often do) and I saw Sunny Anderson making spaghetti and meatballs. I was suddenly overcome with the desire to make it, and as you can see, I did.
I found a recipe from Cooking Light, but the truth is that I had almost none of the ingredients it required. So, using their recipe as a general guide to proportions, I sort of improvised. And it came out so well! I used ground turkey and turkey Italian sausage for the meatballs, so they may be different from the ones you’re used to, but they’re much healthier and still incredibly flavorful, moist, and delicious. The sauce has a lovely depth of flavor, and I assure you it’s much better than anything you’ll find in a jar at your neighborhood megamart.
It’s also all very easy—a bit more time consuming for some (about an hour start to finish, and it’s all active prep time), but it’s definitely worth it. It’s great for a weekend dinner so you’ll have the time to make it, as well as leftovers for the coming week. The sauce and meatballs are very freezer-friendly, so this is another dish you can half-prep on the weekend and finish when you get home from work on a weeknight. Let’s make it!
Your cast of characters. Not shown: various spices, sun-dried tomatoes, parmesan cheese, cooking sherry.
Heat a pan over medium-high heat, then spray with cooking spray (I used olive oil spray). Saute your onion for 3 minutes.
Add in your salt and sun-dried tomatoes and saute for another minute.
Add in your sherry and water, then cook for four minutes.
Now dump in your tomatoes and your rosemary, oregano, and red pepper flakes. Reduce the heat and cook for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. At about 20 to 25 minutes, add in half a cup of grated parmesan cheese. This helps thicken the sauce and adds flavor.
While that’s simmering, make your meatballs. Preheat your broiler and combine all of your meatball ingredients in a bowl: turkey, sausage, breadcrumbs, onion, parsley, garlic, egg whites, salt, pepper, and basil. You can chop your onions finer than I did—I like onions so I don’t mind large chunks, but you can definitely chop them up really finely if you don’t have a lot of onion fans in your house.
Dig right in with your hands and mix it all up until it’s well-combined.
With your hands, form the meatballs. I’d say I made mine about 2 tablespoons’ worth, but you can make yours larger or smaller. I got about 25 meatballs from my mixture.
Spray a baking dish with nonstick spray, then arrange your meatballs in it. Place them under the broiler for about 15 to 17 minutes or until cooked through. Flip them over with tongs about halfway through.
When the meatballs are done and the sauce has been simmering for about 45 minutes, add your meatballs to your sauce and simmer for another 15 minutes. This is a good time to cook your pasta.
Then, drain your pasta and top with sauce, meatballs, and fresh parsley. You’re done!
This dish is hearty, filling, delicious, and best of all, it’s a lot healthier than most versions of spaghetti and meatballs.
Make some on a particularly cold night and it’ll warm you right up. Enjoy!
Spaghetti and Meatballs
Serves 8: Approx. 1 cup pasta, 1/2 cup sauce, and 3 meatballs per serving
For the sauce:
1 cup onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cooking sherry or wine (can substitute chicken or vegetable broth)
2 28-oz. cans tomatoes, crushed or diced, undrained
1 1/2 teaspoons dried rosemary
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
For the meatballs:
1 lb. ground turkey
2 4-oz. links sweet Italian turkey sausage, casings removed
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1 Tablespoon dried basil
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons egg whites
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 lb. cooked spaghetti (use whole grain if possible)
Fresh parsley for garnish
For sauce: Heat a large Dutch oven or nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Spray with cooking spray, add onion and saute for 3 minutes. Add garlic, saute 1 minute. Add sun-dried tomatoes, cook 1 minute. Add salt and wine (or stock), then cook for 4 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, rosemary, oregano, and red pepper flakes. Reduce and simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. After about 25 minutes, stir in parmesan cheese.
For meatballs: Preheat broiler. Combine all meatball ingredients in a large bowl, then mix together thoroughly with hands. Wet hands and form meatballs, about 2 Tablespoons each. Place meatballs in a baking dish coated with nonstick spray and broil for about 15 to 17 minutes, flipping halfway through, until cooked through.
Add meatballs to sauce, simmer 15 additional minutes. Serve about 3 meatballs and 1/2 sauce over 1 cup cooked spaghetti. Garnish with fresh parsley.