Calabrian Style Meatballs Simmered in a Butter-Onion Tomato Sauce Recipe

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The best way to describe this dish is a southern rustic meatball meets a sassy northern sauce. Who would have ever thought that they would be a perfect match made in heaven?

Prep time:
Cook time:
Servings: 6 Servings


Cost per serving $2.09 view details
  • Sauce:
  • 2x 28 oz (800 g) pureed tomato sauce (or pomodoro passato)
  • 1/2 cup (112 g) unsalted butter
  • 2 medium onions (or 1 large), peeled and halved through the root
  • 1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
  • 1/2 tsp sugar for acidity (if necessary)
  • Meatballs:
  • 1 cup (100 g) fresh white bread crumbs
  • 8 tbsp milk
  • 8 oz. (250 g) ground beef
  • 8 oz. (250 g) ground pork
  • 1 cup (100 g) grated parmesan (Grana Padano or Romano Pecorino also work well)
  • 1/3 cup (15 g) finely chopped Italian parsley
  • 1 tsp salt, or to taste
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 large garlic cloves, pressed or very finely minced
  • Pasta and Cheese:
  • 1 lb (500 g) spaghetti
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese for serving (Grana Padano or Romano Pecorino can also be used)


  1. Place all the ingredients for the sauce in a dutch oven or heavy-bottomed sauce pan. Swirl about 3/4 cup (200 ml) water in the cans and add to sauce mixture. Simmer over medium heat while preparing the meatballs (about 20-30 minutes, depending on quick you are).
  2. Mix all the ingredients for the meatballs in a large bowl, mixing well with your hands. Using an ice cream scoop, scoop out all the meat mixture first, and then roll them out (you'll 20-24 pieces).
  3. Place them into the sauce, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer for 15-20 minutes until the meatballs are cooked through. Using a slotted spoon, take out the meatballs and place them in a serving bowl or platter, and set aside. Taste the sauce, if it tastes acidic, then adjust with a bit of sugar.
  4. After sauce is done, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, and cook spaghetti according to package instructions, and drain. Add pasta to sauce in pot and toss to coat. Divide pasta among 6 plates and top each serving with meatballs (about 4 each). Sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese and serve immediately.


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Nutrition Facts

Amount Per Serving %DV
Serving Size 566g
Recipe makes 6 servings
Calories 919  
Calories from Fat 378 41%
Total Fat 42.65g 53%
Saturated Fat 21.83g 87%
Trans Fat 0.0g  
Cholesterol 162mg 54%
Sodium 2606mg 109%
Potassium 1470mg 42%
Total Carbs 90.79g 24%
Dietary Fiber 8.0g 27%
Sugars 18.77g 13%
Protein 44.26g 71%
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