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Vinny Guadagnino's Spaghetti and Meatballs

Vinny Guadagnino's Spaghetti and Meatballs
Vinny Guadagnino's Spaghetti and MeatballsNathan Congleton / TODAY
Cook Time:
45 mins
Prep Time:
45 mins

Chef notes

This is a family recipe passed down from our relatives from Sicily for many generations. The cheese and bread gives the meatballs more flavor and a softer texture.

Technique tip: Don't over mix the meatball ingredients. And as you're rolling them keep a bowl of water on the side to wet your hands so you're hands so the meat doesn't stick to them.

Swap option: Instead of white bread you can use all breadcrumbs.


  • 1/2 cup minced onion
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 28-ounce cans cans tomato puree
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced basil
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 loaf white bread, crusts removed and torn into small pieces
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1 pound ground veal, beef and pork mix
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
  • 1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pinch baking soda
  • 1/2 cup plain breadcrumbs
  • Corn oil, for frying
  • Water, for boiling
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 16-ounce box spaghetti
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • Parmesan cheese, grated


    For the sauce:


    In a sauce pot, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and sauté until golden brown.


    Add both cans of tomato puree and water. Let cook for 10 minutes.


    Stir in salt, sugar and pepper.


    Lower flame to simmer and let cook for 30-40 minutes.

    For the meatballs:


    Lightly soak the bread in the milk.


    In a mixing bowl, combine the ground meat, eggs, garlic, parsley, cheese, salt, pepper, baking soda, bread and breadcrumbs.


    Gently mix all ingredients with your hands or a spoon (do not over mix). Form the mixture into golf sized balls.


    In a frying pan, add one cup of oil for frying (enough oil to cover meatball half way). Heat it over medium-high flame until hot.


    Drop the meatballs into frying pan. Wait until one side is golden brown and then turn over to other side (about 5 minutes per side).


    Drain on a paper towel-lined plate to remove excess oil.


    Add the meatballs to the sauce pot and simmer. Let cook for 30 minutes.

    For the spaghetti:


    In a large pot, add water and 1 tablespoon of salt. Bring to a boil.


    Add pasta and cook according to package directions until al dente.


    Remove one cup of water from pot and reserve on the side.


    Drain the pasta and return it to the pot. Stir in the butter.

    To serve:


    Stir some of the reserved pasta water into the sauce to loosen it if it has thickened too much.


    Divide the pasta onto plates and top with sauce and meatballs. Serve with grated Parmesan.