Oh, there just really isn’t much better in life than a big bowl of spaghetti and meatballs.
You have probably heard me mention before that my mom is Italian, which means I grew up eating and loving pasta and still to this day, pasta is just one of those things I will never say goodbye to. Lucky for me, I have finally found a gluten free pasta with fantastic taste and texture. Thanks to Jovial Foods, I can enjoy my pasta without the gluten.
Years ago, a close friend of mine who has Celiac disease (an autoimmune disorder where the ingestion of gluten leads to damage in the small intestine) told me to try Jovial brown rice pasta after listening to me complain about how much I hate the chewy and sticky texture all of the gluten free pastas that I had tried tasted. Just to humor her, I tried Jovial Foods and I seriously could not believe how fantastic it was.
Not only is it gluten free but it’s simple, clean ingredients are really what make me happy. Just 2 ingredients: Organic brown rice and water. Yep, that’s it. How they do it? I’ll never know. But either way, it is the best Gluten Free Pasta out there in my personal opinion. I purchase mine at Whole Foods, but you can checkout their store locator to see where Jovial is sold near you or order it online.
I am so happy to finally be sharing this recipe with you because it is so very near and dear to my heart. My blood pumps with this spaghetti and meatball recipe. It’s what my mom made every Christmas Eve, for birthday parties, when the track team came over for dinner, and basically any event she had to feed a large group. Some of my youngest and fondest memories are of me in the kitchen helping my mom roll meatballs. I love this recipe. I love cooking it and having my little girls in the kitchen to help roll meatballs just like I did with my mom. I love the way it makes my house smell while it’s cooking. And most of all, I love watching the people I love most clean their plates when I make it.
This recipe has been passed down from generation to generation on my mom’s side of the family. I’ve made a few little tweaks to it to make it “me” and I really hope you enjoy making it in your kitchen as much as I do. So before you make this recipe… do me, and yourself, a favor. Wake up early and get it on the stove and let it cook all day. Set the table nice and have your family over for dinner. That way you can enjoy their company and not slave in the kitchen because dinner is done. All you have to do is boil the pasta and, if you want a great gluten free pasta, try using Jovial Brown Rice Pasta like I do.
- 1-2 boxes of Jovial Gluten Free Brown Rice Pasta
- grated parmesan, for serving
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- 6-8 flat-filet anchovies packed in olive oil (or 1 tbsp. anchovy paste. Preferably the flat filets)
- 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
- 2 (28oz.) cans of San Marzano tomatoes
- 2 (15oz) cans tomato sauce (preferably with no salt added)
- 2 cups of water
- 1/4 cup red wine, or more to taste (I use Cabernet or Brunello)-- you can sub beef broth if you don't drink wine
- 1/4 cup, packed, freshly chopped parsley
- 8 large basil leaves, julienned
- 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
- kosher salt, to taste
- black pepper, to taste
- 1 (6oz) can Tomato Paste
- 4 Italian Sausage Links (This is optional. I prefer Hot Italian, but mild or sweet is fine, depending on what you prefer)
- 2 lbs. ground beef
- 1 lb. ground veal (can use ground pork if you can't get ground veal)
- 2 eggs
- 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup freshly chopped parsley
- 1/2 tsp. black pepper, or to taste
- 1 tsp. kosher salt, or to taste
- 1/8 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes(optional)
- 1/3 cup Italian breadcrumbs (use gluten free breadcrumbs here to keep this dish GF)
- Heat a large pot over medium heat.
- Add 2 tbsp. olive oil and when hot, add the anchovies, let fry for just a minute then, using the back of a wooden spoon, mash them up into a paste like consistency. Now, toss in the chopped garlic and the crushed red pepper, sauté for about 1 minute, stirring constantly, to be careful not to burn the garlic.
- Pour in the San Marzano tomatoes and the tomato sauce. Stir to combine.
- Add the water and red wine, and the parsley, oregano and basil.
- Season the sauce well with salt and pepper, to taste (you can always add more later if it needs it)
- Turn the heat up to medium-high and bring to a light boil then, reduce the heat to low and cover while you make your meatballs and sausage.
- Please see the meatballs and sausage instructions below, once they are browned you add them to the sauce and let the sauce and meatballs cook, stirring occasionally. The sauce should just be barely simmering during the cooking process on low heat. Let it simmer for at least 2 hours but I usually put mine on the lowest heat setting and let it cook for more like 4-6 hours.
- About 30 minutes prior to serving, I like to "thicken" up my sauce a bit by adding tomato paste to the sauce (some people do this at the beginning of making the sauce, but I find it thickens way better if you add it last). Add about 1 tsp of olive oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat and add the can of tomato paste. Stir the tomato paste until it softens up a bit and just fries up a tad in the oil, about 3 minutes.
- Add the tomato paste to the sauce and stir until combined. Let cook for about 30 more minutes before serving, stirring occasionally to make sure the tomato paste combines into the sauce and that there are no clumps of it in there.
- Taste and add salt and pepper to sauce if needed. I also like to add a little more red wine here if desired. You want just a subtle hint of the red wine taste, so add a splash or two more if you think it could use more.
- In a bowl, combine the ground beef, veal, eggs, chopped garlic, parsley, salt, pepper, crushed red pepper, and bread crumbs. Using your hands, work the meat until it is just combined evenly.
- Now, using a ice cream scoop or spoon, scoop meat out in roll into uniform sized meatballs, about 1.5-2 inch balls. Set aside.
- In a large skillet heat 1 tbsp. of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the sausages and cook until each side is brown and sausages are almost cooked through, about 4 minutes per side (they will continue to cook in the sauce). Remove from skillet and set aside on a plate to let rest before cutting.
- Meanwhile, drain the fat from the sausage skillet and place back over medium-high heat. Add 2 tbsp. of olive oil and add the meatballs to the oil, without overcrowding the pan so the they cook evenly. You may have to do this in 2-3 batches depending on the size of your skillet. Brown each side for 3 minutes so that the meatballs will hold together in the sauce. They don't need to be cooked through, just browned to hold together, they will continue to cook in the sauce.
- Using a slotted spoon, transfer the browned meatballs into the sauce.
- Slice the sausages into 2 inch chunks and add to the sauce.
- Let the meatballs and sausages simmer as the sauce continues to cook.
- Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and place in a bowl. I drizzle my pasta with a tbsp. of olive oil and also add a ladle or two of the spaghetti sauce to just keep it hydrated and to prevent it from sticking together. Serve immediately. (Ladle with spaghetti sauce and meatballs, garnish with grated parmesan, fresh chopped basil and parsley.