There is nothing better than a big bowl of spaghetti and meatballs on a cold winter night, especially if your kids are doing most of the cooking! Mixing and shaping are a great activity for little hands if they’re old enough to know to wash their hands after touching raw ingredients. Conveniently leaving your hands free for supervising and sipping.
This recipe makes enough for 8 servings of meatballs. I like to freeze half of them individually on a cookie sheet, and then transfer them to a vacuum sealed bag. Then just add them to your sauce and simmer for 20 minutes or so. That way you can have sketti night any night!
Spaghetti and Meatballs
1 cup course homemade bread crumbs (torn up pieces of stale bread, or fresh bread if you don’t have stale)
1 cup milk
1 medium onion (or 1/2 large), minced
3 cloves garlic
1/2 cup celery leaves, chopped (or parsley if you don’t have celery tops laying around)
1 pound lead ground beef
1 pound mild Italian sausage
1/2 cup Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion (or 1/2 large), diced
1 clove garlic
1 glass of red wine, optional
1 quart canned tomatoes, crushed
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 pound pasta
fresh basil, optional
extra cheese, optional (who are you kidding?)
Start the sauce. Saute onions in olive oil until translucent, approx 5 minutes over medium-high heat. Stir in garlic and heat through, 1 minute. If you like, pour that glass of wine you’re drinking in; while the wine cooks down, refill yourself. When the wine is nearly gone (in the pot), pour in the tomatoes and season with salt. Bring to a simmer, then put it on the back burner on low until the meatballs are done.
Heat the oven to 400.
Kid-friendly cooking. From here on out, nearly all of the steps are kid-friendly for ages 4 and up. But first give them lectures on the need for clean hands, and make sure they know not to put their fingers in their mouth after touching the raw meat.
In a large bowl, crack the eggs and lightly whisk them. Add the onions, garlic, celery, meats, cheese, and seasonings. With your hands, scoop the bread out of the milk and add to the large bowl. You may have a bit of leftover milk that you’ll need to discard, but the bread should have soaked up a good portion of it.
Form the mixture into 2-inch meatballs and place on a lightly greased cookie sheet and inch or two apart. If your hands get too sticky, run them under cold water and you’ll be good to go. This is a good time to get dad to jump in and help too. You should make approx 32 meatballs.
End kid-friendly cooking.
Put the meatballs in the oven and cook for 15 minutes, until the meatballs are brown and just cooked through.
Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain, stir a cup or so of sauce over the pasta so it doesn’t stick.
When the meatballs are done, toss them into the sauce just to coat.