Passed down from my Italian mother-in-law, this is the best-ever recipe for an authentic Italian dish full of rich flavors and yummy goodness. Plan for ample cooking time, because the longer the sauce simmers, the better it gets. Buon appetito!
Spaghetti dinner means something a little different to every. Red sauce. White sauce. Carbonara. Bolognese. With or without meat. The list goes on and on. Regardless of what it is for you, it’s almost certain to conjure fond childhood memories of a family meal. And it’s such a nostalgic dish, reminiscing about the person who first made it for you seems almost inevitable.
I remember the meaty Cajun version my dad used to make when growing up, which I still make and enjoy (that’s a post for another day). This recipe, though, is one I learned to make from my husband’s mother — a true Italian. Sadly, she passed many years ago; however, I remember her quite fondly every time I make this dish.
The homemade sauce uses few ingredients with lots of seasoning, and slow cooks for several hours. The meatballs cook right in the sauce, which adds a little extra zest. I made a few tweaks to her recipe through the years, of course, cause that’s how I roll. Nonetheless, this delicious spaghetti sauce with meatballs still has the same rich flavors as hers did.
I hope you enjoy this family favorite as much as my family does.
- You’re going to want an exceptionally large soup pot to make this sauce, especially to give enough room for your meatballs and sausage if you choose to add them. I recommend a 20-quart stainless-steel stock pot, which is what I use. Plenty of room for everything, plus deep enough to help avoid splatter.
- I recommend my favorite 8-quart stainless-steel mixing bowl for mixing up the meatballs. Plenty of room for all the ingredients, plus a wide opening that makes it so much easier to get my hands in there.
- Make a double batch of the sauce with plans to freeze some for future meals. The sauce is perfect for lasagna, ravioli, and tortellini dishes. If doing this, only double up on the sauce ingredients and scoop out all the cooked meatballs and sausage before freezing.
- Store leftovers in the fridge for up to four days. Be sure to use an airtight container and cover any pasta with sauce to avoid drying out.
- Freeze leftover sauce in an airtight container for up to six months. If freezing leftover meatballs, store them separately for up to four months. When ready to eat, bring to room temperature and then reheat on the stove.
- Make a delicious mustgoes meal out of your leftover sauce. Cook a packet of ramen noodles, as directed, and add a cup of sauce (with or without the meatballs) to the pot. So good!
- The meatballs tend to add more flavors in the sauce; however, you can easily make this without meatballs. Or, heck, use frozen meatballs if you don’t have time to make the homemade version.
- The longer this sauce simmers, the better it gets. Going past the four-hour mark is fine; however, make sure to turn heat to low, keep partially covered, and stir often.
- Serve over your favorite noodles, such as spaghetti, fettuccine, linguine, or mostaccioli (my favorite). For a healthier dish, serve over zucchini noodles or spaghetti squash.
- Never use a spoon or mixer to make your meatballs. Instead, put all your meatball ingredients in the bowl at once, then roll up your sleeves and tenderly mix it all up using your hands. I recommend this 8-quart stainless-steel mixing bowl (it’s my favorite). If you find the meat mixture sticks to your hands while trying to form a ball, add a little oil to your hands. Smooth sailing.
- When adding your meatballs and sausage to your sauce, be sure to place one at a time in random locations around the pot. If necessary, gently stir the sauce mid-way through adding your meatballs. This will help to avoid clumping of all the meat.
- To serve, I recommend adding some sauce to your pasta and serving in a large pasta bowl like the Villa della Luna Bowl from Pfaltzgraff (I love this bowl and have been eyeing it for a while now…it’ll be mine someday soon). Then, put a bowl of extra sauce on the table for everyone to add to their plates, as desired.
- To cover or not cover the pot? I recommend putting the lid on slightly askew or cracked. This allows some heat and steam to escape, while still allowing the sauce to evaporate a bit and thicken.
If you enjoyed this recipe, please consider leaving a comment and star rating below. It’s always refreshing to hear how others like a recipe, find success with it, or tweak to suit. I’d love to hear from you!