Spaghetti with Meatballs (small batch)

Tuesday 13 July 2021

Spaghetti with Meatballs 

Spaghetti and Meatballs is not something which I grew up with.  In my early childhood years the closest we ever got to spaghetti was when my mother opened us a can of Heinz spaghetti in tomato sauce.  

Sometimes we would have that for supper on Saturday night with pan fried hotdogs and we thought it was a real treat! It was about as foreign as you could get in our house! 

Spaghetti with Meatballs 

Then somewhere along the way she discovered what she called "Italian Spaghetti."  A pound of hamburger browned in a pot with a can of Catelli sauce poured over top. She was pretty proud of that and my dad loved it.

I was not so keen, but that was because of the hamburger. My sister wasn't keen about the sauce at all. She would eat her spaghetti plain with butter and cheese. Mom would save a tablespoon of the sauce out for me and I would have my spaghetti with that and cheese.

Spaghetti with Meatballs 

To this day I have no recollection at all of my mother sitting down to eat with us. Not ever.  I will have to ask my sister if she does.  I do once we were adults, just not from when we were children.

I first discovered spaghetti with meatballs when I was a young Bride living out in Calgary.  There was a place called The Old Spaghetti Factory.  Going there for a meal out was a real treat for us. We would get all dressed up and get a baby sitter for the kids.

Spaghetti with Meatballs 

They had like a bottomless bread basket. They would keep bringing you bread as long as you wanted it and it was great bread.  You also got a salad and dessert thrown in.

I can't remember what the main courses were on offer, but we always got the spaghetti and meatballs.  It all felt very elegant to me.

Spaghetti with Meatballs 

When I was  child spaghetti and meatballs was only something we sang about in a song where we lost our meatball when somebody sneezed.  As an adult it was finally a delicious reality.

I made sure my children grew up knowing the delicious reality that was spaghetti and meatballs. The recipe I used then was one which I found in an old cookbook of my mother's, entitled Martha Logan's meat cookbook.

Spaghetti with Meatballs

I had it handwritten and copied out into my big blue binder. It was my standard for years and years.  Gradually I got more inventive with it and finally it became my own.

Nowadays spaghetti and meatballs is not something I indulge in very often at all.  When I was in the UK, my husband did not like pasta of any kind, and here in Canada there is only me to feed.

Spaghetti with Meatballs 

I have neither the desire nor the inclination to cook meals that I will be having to eat for days and days to use them up.  Smaller is the way to go these days.

I will save the big batch cooking for when I eventually have company to visit.  I am sure that will happen one day, and hopefully in the not too distant future. We will see what happens. Fingers crossed.

Spaghetti with Meatballs 

Eileen and Tim want to come and stay overnight and I think they are coming for Thanksgiving this year. Tim's family is going to Ontario to be with his brother, so Eileen and Tim will be on their own.

Who knows some of my family may make it over from across the Bay of Fundy or the Northumberland Straight.  Hope springs eternal.

Spaghetti with Meatballs

But you're not here to read about my hopes and dreams, you are here to read about Spaghetti and Meatballs and my downsizing the recipe.

This recipe makes 12 perfectly tiny, cherry tomato sized meatballs, along with a thick and healthy pan of sauce.  Just perfect for feeding two or one with leftovers. (I don't mind indulging in leftovers once.)

Spaghetti with Meatballs 

The meatballs themselves are a mix of pork and beef.  Do buy the best and leanest your money can buy.  These days I like to grind my own.

If you do that you can grind the pork and beef together and its already perfectly mixed.  All you need to do then is to add the bread and seasonings.

Spaghetti with Meatballs 

I brown them all over in a small amount of oil in a non-stick skillet.  Simple.  You can shake the skillet from time to time to roll them over, or you can use a pair of tongs. I favor the skillet shake myself. 

The sauce is a simple one.  There is not a lot in it.  Good canned tomatoes.  Garlic. Grated onion, some seasonings.

Spaghetti with Meatballs 

Buy the best tomatoes your money can buy. If you find them too acidic you can add a pinch of sugar, but just a pinch. I add some butter to increase the richness in the sauce. The seasonings are also simple.

This is the bare-bones recipe. I don't yet have things like wine, etc. in my house for cooking with, so there is none of that, but you can certainly add a splash of wine to this if you wish to, instead of the water I suggest in the recipe.

Spaghetti with Meatballs

As simple as this is, it is also incredibly delicious and satisfying.  Served with some Parmesan cheese grated on top.

I made some garlic bread with a stale roll to have on the side and if I didn't need to go grocery shopping I would have had a salad as well.  Next time  . . . 

Spaghetti with Meatballs (small batch)

Spaghetti with Meatballs (small batch)

Yield: Serves 2
Author: Marie Rayner
Prep time: 10 MinCook time: 30 MinTotal time: 40 Min
Simple, really. Delicious too. Adapted from a recipe in the cookbook entitled Martha Logan's Meat Cookbook.


For the meatballs:
  • 1 thick slice soft white bread, crusts removed
  • 2 TBS milk
  • 1/4 pound (4 ounces) lean ground beef
  • 1/4 pound (4 ounces) ground pork
  • 1 TBS chopped parsley
  • 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 2 TBS grated onion
  • 2 TBS light olive oil to fry
For the sauce:
  • 1 TBS olive oil
  • 1 fat clove of garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 1 1/2 cups (360ml) chopped tomatoes in juice, undrained
  • 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 TBS grated onion
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) water or stock
  • 1 TBS butter
You will also need:
  • 6 ounces (175g) dry spaghetti
  • 1 TBS butter
  • grated Parmesan cheese to serve


  1. First make the meatballs.  Tear the bread into a bowl and add the milk.  Squish it with your fingers until the bread totally soaks up the milk.  Add the grated onion, parsley and seasoning. Add both ground meats and mix everything together with your hands. Knead it all together thoroughly.  Shape into 12  balls the size of plum tomato.
  2. Heat the oil in a non-stick skillet and add the meatballs. Cook, turning occasionally, until golden brown all over.  Drain on some paper kitchen toweling while you make the sauce.
  3. Heat the oil for the sauce in the skillet.  Add the garlic and cook until it smells quite fragrant.  Tip in the tomatoes, Italian seasoning and grated onion.  Bring to the boil and then reduce to a simmer. mashing the tomatoes gently with a fork.  Stir in the butter. Add the water and meatballs. Simmer everything together for 20 to 25 minutes.  Taste and adjust seasoning as required. 
  4. While the sauce is about halfway cooked, cook the spaghetti according to the package directions in lightly salted boiling water. Cook just to al dente.  When the pasta is done, scoop it out into the skillet with the meatballs and sauce, adding the remaining butter. Taste and adjust seasoning as required. 
  5. Serve the hot pasta in heated bowls along with some Parmesan cheese for sprinkling.
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  1. Love spaghetti and meatballs. Growing up mom made us a spaghetti casserole - cooked spaghetti, canned tomatoes, chunks of cheddar cheese wirh more sliced on top. Then into the oven till everything was bubbling. We loved that melted cheese on top. We never even missed the meatballs. Oh, dear, now I'm hungry! Have a lovely Tuesday. Love and hugs, Elaine

    1. That sounds right up my alley Elaine! I love simple dishes like that. I love buttered macaroni with canned tomatoes, cheese and onions, and buttered bread cubes. Now you've made me hungry! lol Love and hugs and happy Tuesday wishes! xoxo

  2. As with your childhood memories, the only spaghetti I ever knew growing up was Heinz tinned spaghetti. We sometimes had it for Sunday supper. Mum always did a big roast for Sunday lunch, so dinner was often something simple - tomato soup and crumpets or maybe tinned spaghetti on toast. Sometimes she'd add some mini frankfurters to it as well.

    I ate proper spaghetti for the first time as an adult and mostly did home made pasts as I bought a pasta rolling machine and learned to love the taste of fresh pasta. I still make fresh pasta (esp lasagne sheets, fettucini and spaghetti as well as filled ravioli and tortellini), though I do buy shaped pasta (only Barilla brand - I'm strict about that!)

    I made a baked spaghetti and meatballs last week from another of your recipes that used chianti wine in the sauce ( - highly recommended folks). Before that, I'd not eaten it in years, but now wonder why as it's a lovely, satisfying meal. I approve of the side serve of garlic bread as well - they go together so well.

  3. We would have spaghetti when I was growing up, but never with meatballs. Always with meat sauce. Mom would put onions, mushrooms, black olives, all sorts of yummy things in it. I don't recall there ever being any leftovers! I make it for Keith and I about once or twice a month. He likes it better than I do, but only with plain meat sauce, no yummy additions.

  4. A favourite in our house, hubby cooks it once a week and there is always enough for a meal later on.


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