Spaghetti with Spring Meatballs



  • 2 tablespoons EVOO
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 4 cloves garlic, very thinly sliced (I use a truffle shaver)
  • 1 carrot, coarsely chopped
  • 1 large onion, peeled and quartered, but with the root end attached
  • 1 or 2 fresh bay leaves
  • 2 (28- or 32-ounce) cans San Marzano tomatoes (look for DOP on the label)
  • 3-inch piece Parmesan cheese rind (if you have one; optional)
  • A small handful of fresh basil leaves, torn
  • Salt and pepper


  • 1 cup diced white bread (no crusts)
  • Milk, for soaking
  • 1 1/4 pounds meatloaf mix (ground beef, pork, and veal)
  • 1/4 cup fresh ricotta cheese
  • 3 tablespoons grated onion (grate it right into the bowl)
  • 3 or 4 cloves garlic, grated or pasted
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh sage
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated pecorino cheese
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup EVOO
  • 2 medium Araucana or organic eggs, lightly beaten


  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for serving


Make the sauce: In a large Dutch oven, heat the EVOO (2 turns of the pan) and the butter over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and stir it around for a minute or two. Stir in the carrot, onion, and bay leaves. Add the tomatoes, breaking them up a little bit. Add the Parm rind and basil; season with salt and pepper. Bring that to a low bubble and cook to thicken and get flavorful while you make the meatballs.

Meanwhile, make the meatballs: Preheat the oven to 375°F. Arrange a wire cooling rack over a baking sheet.

In a small bowl, combine the diced bread with enough milk to cover and set aside to soak.

In a large bowl, combine the meatloaf mix, ricotta, onion, garlic, parsley, rosemary, sage, lemon zest, cheeses; season with salt and pepper. Squeeze the excess milk out of the bread and crumble the bread into little bits as you’re adding it to the bowl of ground meat. Add the EVOO and eggs and mix everything together. Roll the mixture into balls about the size of a walnut.

Place the meatballs on the rack in the baking sheet and roast until browned, about 15 minutes. Gently add the meatballs to the simmering sauce and cook, partially covered, for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile make the pasta: Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt the water and cook the pasta to al dente. Before draining, ladle out and reserve 1/2 cup of the starchy pasta cooking water. Drain the pasta, return to the hot cooking pot, and toss with the butter, pasta cooking water, Parm, and a couple of ladles of the tomato sauce.

Serve the spaghetti topped the meatballs and extra sauce. Pass more Parm at the table.

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