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Spaghetti with Meatballs in Marinara Sauce

Anthony Scotto's Spaghetti with Meatballs + Meatballs over Creamy Polenta + Meatball Sandwich
Anthony Scotto's Spaghetti with Meatballs + Meatballs over Creamy Polenta + Meatball SandwichNathan Congleton / TODAY

Chef notes

Classic spaghetti and meatballs is the ultimate comfort food. It's easy to make, full of flavor and the whole family can enjoy it.


  • 1 pound spaghetti, cooked al dente to package directions
    • 2 pounds ground beef
    • 2 slices white bread, soaked in a 1/2 cup of milk
    • 1 cup finely chopped onions
    • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
    • 2 eggs
    • 4 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
    • tablespoons chopped garlic
    • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
    • 1/2 cup cold water
    • 3 tablespoons olive oil
    Marinara Sauce
    • 3 tablespoons olive oil
    • 1 onion, chopped
    • 1 clove garlic, minced
    • 1 16-ounce can Italian plum tomatoes, diced
    • 4 fresh basil leaves, cut in half
    • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
    To Assemble
    • 18 ounces fresh ricotta cheese
    • 12 ounces grated Parmesan cheese
    • 6 whole fresh basil leaves, for garnish
    • Extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling


    For the meatballs:

    In a medium bowl, mix the ground beef, soaked bread, onions, parsley, eggs, Parmesan cheese and garlic. Add salt and pepper to taste. If the mixture is dry, add 1/2 cup of cold water and mix well. Form the mixture into 12 meatballs.

    Place meatballs and olive oil in a large skillet and fry over medium-high heat until brown, about 10-15 minutes, turning them regularly. Remove from heat and dry meatballs on paper towels.

    For the marinara sauce:


    Heat olive oil in medium size saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes.


    Add tomatoes and basil, simmer until thickened, about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper to taste.


    Add the meatballs to the tomato sauce and simmer for 15 minutes then add the spaghetti and toss.

    To assemble:

    Divide the spaghetti and meatballs onto 6 individual plates, top with 3 ounces fresh ricotta and 1½-2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese. Garnish with basil leaves, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and serve.