Italian Night: Classic Marinara And Meatballs


I have grown up watching my incredible Italian grandmother (who could pass for being in her 60s) make delicious pasta with savory meatballs and marinara. This dish reminds me of my childhood and how incredibly blessed I am to have such a loving and inspiring lady in my life – I owe many recipes and a love for cooking to sweet Clementine. She continues to whip up a storm in her kitchen, and I will be sharing more of her recipes in later posts (i.e. banana bread with a maple pecan topping, homemade toffee, cinnamon biscuits from scratch, pineapple upside down cake, and melt in your mouth pot roast – all of the oldschool classics of course!). Serve your meatballs and marinara over pasta or make it light with spaghetti squash, zucchini ribbons, or steamed Dole’s broccoli slaw.

Italian Meatballs (fresh herbs only) – Makes 18 meatballs – Serves 6 over pasta


  • 1 cup stale bread crumbs (ask in your bakery department at your grocery store for some)
  • 1/3 cup cold 2% milk
  • 1/2 pound ground pork
  • 1/2 pound ground veal
  • 1/2 pound ground beef chuck
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan
  • 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 3 rosemary springs (take off the stem)
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh oregano
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped (about 1/4 cup)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (1 tablespoon from the jar)
  • 1/3 cup olive oil, divided into two small bowls
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt


  1. Pulse bread into crumbs in a food processor. In a small bowl toss the bread crumbs with milk to re-hydrate.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the bread crumbs, pork, veal, beef, Parmesan, parsley, rosemary, basil, salt, pepper, onion, garlic, and egg and mix until combined.
  3. Using your hands, gently form the meat mixture into 18 slightly larger than golf ball-sized balls. (Packing the meat mixture too tightly together will result in tough meatballs). Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours.
  4. Heat half the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add half of the meatballs and cook, turning occasionally, until well browned on all sides, about 6 minutes. Transfer the meatballs to a plate. Drain the oil and wipe out the skillet, return to the heat, and repeat with the remaining oil and meatballs. Only brown them, they will finish cooking in the marinara sauce. If you are planning to eat these on their own then continue to cook them all the way through in the oil.
  5. See marinara recipe below…

Marinara Sauce (thick and a little spicy)


  • 2 medium onions, chopped (1 container pre diced onions)
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 2 tsp. sea salt
  • 2 cans (24 oz each) chopped tomatoes
  • 1 can fire roasted (24 oz) chopped tomatoes
  • 2 cans (6 oz each) tomato paste
  • 1 tsp. fresh, coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 3-4 tsp. freshly chopped parsley
  • 3-4 tsp. freshly chopped basil
  • 3 rosemary springs
  • extra basil for garnish
  • parmesan cheese for garnish if serving immediately


1. In a large, heavy-bottom sauce pan (I use this anodized braising skillet for my meatballs and sauce from Sur La Table), heat the oil. Add the onions, garlic, and salt.
2. Cook onions and garlic in oil on medium-low heat until they’re golden. About 15 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high.
3. Reduce heat to low. Add all of the cans of tomatoes.
4. Stir in the tomato paste and remaining ingredients
5. Bring to a simmer. Cover and simmer on low heat 1 and 1/2 to 2 hours (or longer, if you like). Serve this Italian spaghetti sauce recipe on its own or with 3 meatballs per bowl. Top with fresh basil, parmesan and extra red pepper flakes for a kick!
6. Serve with penne, rigatoni or spaghetti pasta…. OR boil zucchini ribbons, steam brocoli slaw in the microwave, or bake spaghetti squash for alternatives to pasta.

P.S. My grandmother is pretty rockin, right?



3 responses to “Italian Night: Classic Marinara And Meatballs

  1. Oh I canny wait for the Banana bread, toffee, and cinnamon biscuits Love Clem’s cooking and live her Aunt Emily

    Sent from my iPhone

  2. Pingback: Marinara Turkey Meat Sauce Over “Zoodles” | cookingandaconvo·

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s