Spaghetti with Cheesy Meatballs
The secret to getting mouth-watering tender cheesy meatballs is bread. Yes, bread. And the secret to making a traditional sauce is to use simple ingredients and time, just the way our grandmothers did.
Most of you that have followed me for a while now, know that I try to eat low-carb and often leave out bread or breadcrumbs from my meatballs but this would not be the right thing to do in this instance. When serving spaghetti with meatballs, the last thing you want is a dry, hard-to-swallow meatball, so I am sharing with you my mum’s best-kept secret – bread. Not breadcrumbs, but bread.
For this recipe, I have used gluten-free sliced bread but you can use whatever bread you like – my only suggestion would be to use good quality bread (wholemeal, sourdough, etc) – not cheap sliced bread. This is because the bread needs the crust to be removed, the centre soaked, the water squeezed out, and then using your fingertips, you will need to crumble it. The cheaper slices of bread just turn into some kind of soggy dough that resembles slime.
My other secret ingredient is zucchini. When you grate the zucchini, it is really important you use the fine grater (check out my video below how finely I grate it) – the same grater you would use to grate parmesan or even garlic. The thin strands of zucchini blend in and are virtually invisible yet they provide moisture and make the meatballs even more tender.
In saying that, it is also important to grate the onion for this recipe. You do not need to grate it with a fine grater – just the traditional grater you use. The reason you need to grate the onion is that this is what makes the meatballs fluffy. Do not squeeze the juices out of the onions once you grate them, add the juices and all into the mixture.
Now the cheese! I usually just add parmesan cheese but with this recipe, I added finely grated cheddar cheese as well. Holy heavens what a game changer! So good and of course the added flavour was amazing however if you prefer a more traditional meatball, then leave out the cheddar cheese and only add the parmesan cheese.
Finally, the basil. If you love basil, then add a whole cup of basil leaves. I absolutely love basil in Spaghetti with Meatballs and as I do not add much to the sauce, it is truly essential to add them to the meatballs.
Now onto the sauce. My sauce is simple because all the flavour is in the meatballs. Once you fry off the meatballs then add the can of crushed tomatoes (please use good quality) and fill the same can, filled with water and pour it into the pot as well. Season generously with sea salt, freshly ground pepper, and a handful of basil leaves. That is it. Now leave it to gently simmer for 30 minutes, and at every 10-minute mark, just give the meatballs a little swirl to make sure they are evenly cooking.
And there you have it! Spaghetti with Cheesy Meatballs!
Watch How to Make It
And now it’s time to start cooking! As always, if you make any of my recipes, I would love to hear your feedback. I am available here via email or you can catch me daily on Instagram and Facebook. Don’t forget to save it on your Pinterest board as well! I have a board named CreateCookShare that you can follow and save. Can’t wait to hear from you.
Spaghetti with Cheesy Meatballs
Douuble the ingredients for a larger serving and keep leftovers for lunch the following day. Other options are to serve meatballs in a bread roll, as a side dish to steamed veggies or even with steamed rice.
Makes 16 meatballs
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 50 minutes
500g beef mince
400g can of crushed tomatoes
2 tablespoon tomato paste, heaped
3 - 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 brown onion, grated
1 medium zucchini, finely grated
¼ cup parsley, finely chopped
½ -1 cup basil, finely chopped + extra for sauce
2 garlic cloves, finely grated, or 1 tsp dried garlic granules
2 slices of bread, crusts removed
½ cup parmesan cheese
½ cup tasty cheese, grated (optional for extra cheesiness)
1 egg, whisked
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1 packet spaghetti, gluten-free
Optional to serve:
Heirloom tomatoes, basil leaves, parmesan cheese
1. Combine in a large bowl the beef, onion, zucchini, parsley, basil, garlic, parmesan, tasty cheese, egg, and seasoning.
2. Soak the bread in water, squeeze the water out, and using your fingers crumble it into the mixture as well. Combine all ingredients and roll into balls. Place onto a large tray so the meatballs are ready to be cooked.
3. Heat the oil in a wide-based pan and fry meatballs in batches. Add extra oil when needed.
4. Return all meatballs to the pan and pour over the tomatoes and tomato paste. Fill the same can with water and pour this also into the pan and over the meatballs (add extra water if needed). Season generously with sea salt, and freshly ground pepper, and add 10-12 basil leaves (rip them into smaller bits with your hands and not with a knife as it releases the aroma and oils).
5. Bring to boil and then reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and cook for 40 minutes, giving them a swirl every 10 minutes to evenly cook. Once cooked, turn off the heat and allow to sit for 10 minutes before serving.
6. In the meantime, in a large pot of boiling water add a teaspoon of sea salt and cook pasta according to packet instructions. Drain and divide between bowls.
5. Spoon over the meatballs with plenty of sauce and serve with fresh basil leaves, slices of heirloom tomatoes, and finely grated parmesan cheese.