Nonna’s Spaghetti & Meatballs
The meatballs and sauce are cooked in the slow cooker for this traditional Italian spaghetti and meatballs recipe. You could also serve the meatballs over creamy polenta or on a sandwich with melted provolone.
Yield: 8 servings, 1 cup pasta, 3/4 cup sauce & 2 meatballs each
Active Time: 45
Total Time: 480
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup dry whole-wheat breadcrumbs (see Tip)
- 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
- 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for serving
- 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 8 ounces lean (90% or leaner) ground beef
- 8 ounces ground pork or Italian pork sausage
- 8 ounces ground veal
Sauce & Spaghetti
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 cup finely chopped onion
- 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 1 cup dry red wine
- 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
- 1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
- 1 pound whole-wheat spaghetti
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh oregano
- To prepare meatballs: Lightly beat eggs in a large bowl. Stir in breadcrumbs, 1/2 cup onion, cheese, parsley, garlic, salt and pepper. Add beef, pork (or sausage) and veal; gently mix until combined (do not overmix). Using 1/4 cup for each, make 16 meatballs and place in a 6-quart slow cooker.
- To prepare sauce & spaghetti: Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add 1 cup onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Add garlic, Italian seasoning and crushed red pepper; cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add wine and boil for 1 minute. Add crushed and diced tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Pour the sauce over the meatballs.
- Put the lid on the slow cooker and cook on High for 4 hours or Low for 8 hours.
- 30 minutes before you’re ready to eat, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook the spaghetti until just tender, 8 to 10 minutes or according to package directions.
- Spoon any fat off the sauce; add oregano. Serve the meatballs and sauce over the spaghetti with extra Parmesan, if desired.
Tips & Notes
- Make Ahead Tip: To prep ahead: Make meatballs and sauce (Steps 1 & 2); cover and refrigerate separately for up to 1 day. Reheat sauce to a simmer before adding to slow cooker. To make ahead: Freeze cooked meatballs in sauce airtight for up to 3 months. Defrost before reheating. Equipment: 6-quart slow cooker
- Tip: To make your own fresh breadcrumbs, trim crusts from whole-wheat bread. Tear bread into pieces and process in a food processor until coarse crumbs form. To make fine breadcrumbs, process until very fine. To make dry breadcrumbs, spread coarse or fine breadcrumbs on a baking sheet and bake at 250°F until dry, about 10 to 15 minutes. One slice of bread makes about 1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs or about 1/3 cup dry breadcrumbs. For store-bought coarse dry breadcrumbs we like Ian’s brand, labeled “Panko breadcrumbs.” Find them at well-stocked supermarkets.
- Stovetop Variation: Make the sauce (Step 2) in a large Dutch oven instead of a skillet, then gently add the meatballs to the simmering sauce. Cover and gently simmer until the meatballs are cooked through, about 1 hour.
Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin C (35% daily value), Magnesium & Zinc (32% dv), Iron (29% dv), Potassium (25% dv), Vitamin A (24% dv)
3 Carbohydrate Serving
Exchanges: 3 1/2 starch, 1 vegetable, 3 lean meat