Usually when I make red sauce I make a quick marinara sauce with crushed tomatoes. It’s a delicious sauce and my family loves it, but yesterday I decided I wanted to do something different. I wanted to give a slow cooking sauce a try and I wanted meatballs to go with it. Instead of crushed tomatoes, I used organic whole tomatoes that I diced up myself and added red wine, onion, garlic and a variety of fresh herbs. Then I let it simmer for about an hour and a half. At that point I added meatballs that I had already browned and let them simmer in the sauce for about another hour.
The result was delicious! The sauce thickened up nicely and simmering the meatballs in the sauce gave it a deep meaty flavor. It was definitely worth spending the extra money on the organic tomatoes, the flavor was fantastic. This sauce would also work great in the slow cooker. If you made it that way, I would add the meatballs for the last two or three hours of cooking.
Classic Spaghetti and Meatballs
For the sauce:
- 1/2 cup onion, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp fresh oregano, chopped
- 1/3 cup fresh basil, chopped
- 1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped
- 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
- 1/2 cup red wine
- 2 cans organic whole tomatoes, chopped and juice reserved
- salt and pepper
- hot cooked pasta (I like to use multi-grain)
For the meatballs:
- 1/4 cup onion, minced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- olive oil
- 2 slices bread, chopped into small cubes
- 2 eggs
- 1 tbsp fresh oregano, minced
- 1/3 cup grated parmesan
- 1 lb ground beef (I used 90% lean)
- 1 lb ground veal (you could use ground pork if you prefer)
- salt and pepper
- hot cooked spaghetti
Start with the sauce. Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onions and crushed red pepper, saute for about 5 minutes until onions are translucent. Add garlic and saute for another minute.
Add wine, bring to a boil and let reduce for a few minutes.
Add chopped tomatoes and reserved juice. Bring to a bubble, reduce heat to low and stir in herbs, salt and pepper.
Cover and simmer sauce for at least 1 1/2 hours. While sauce is simmering, prepare meatballs. Heat a small amount of olive oil in a small skillet. Add onion and saute for a few minutes, then add garlic and saute for another minute. Allow to cool slightly.
Meanwhile, put bread cubes in a bowl and pour enough milk over them to cover. Soak for a few minutes until bread is soft. Remove from bowl and squeeze out excess milk.
In a large bowl, add all of the ingredients. Mix with your hands until well combined. Shape into 16 meatballs.
Heat about 2 tbsp olive oil in a large non-skillet over medium heat. Brown meatballs for about 4 minutes on each side.
Once sauce has simmered for at least 1 1/2 hours, add meatballs and simmer for 1 hour more.
Serve over hot cooked spaghetti.
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