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Shared by Mindy Martorana

Meatballs With Tomato Sauce

Yield: 6 - 8 servingsTime: 2 h 40 min

Meatballs With Tomato Sauce

Yield: 6 - 8 servingsTime: 2 h 40 min

Family Journey

Chesterfield, CTBrooklyn
Long Island

Mindy’s cooking is a melding of her roots and the foods of her husband’s family, who emigrated from Reggio Calabria in Italy to the United States in 1935. Before she married her husband, he insisted that she learn to make his mother Josephine’s meatballs and “gravy,” as red sauce is called in some Italian American communities. Today, the recipe is a Sunday staple in Mindy’s home.

Read more about Mindy's family in "In This Interfaith Family, Kugel Is About More Than Just Noodles" and try her recipe for sweet noodle kugel.


For the meatballs

  • 1 pound ground beef (20 - 30% fat)
  • 1 pound ground veal
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs 
  • 4 eggs 
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed or finely chopped
  • 2 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper 
  • ½ bunch fresh parsley, finely chopped, about ½ cup

For the sauce

  • ¼ cup olive oil, divided 
  • 2  medium onions, finely chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1-28 ounce cans pureed tomatoes
  • 1-28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • ½ bunch fresh parsley, finely chopped, about ½ cup
  • 1 small bunch fresh basil, finely chopped, about ⅓ cup
Main CoursesMeat North America


  • Step 1

    Make the meatballs: Place the beef, veal, breadcrumbs, eggs, olive oil, garlic, salt, black pepper and parsley into a large bowl. Mix until combined well. Set the mixture aside for 20 minutes.

  • Step 2

    Sear the meatballs: Take about 2 tablespoons of the meatball mixture and loosely form a meatball with your hands. Place the meatball onto a parchment lined baking tray. Continue forming meatballs with the rest of the mixture, until you’ve formed about 16 to 18 meatballs. Place a large pot over medium heat and add the olive oil. Once the oil is sizzling, gently place about 5 meatballs into the pan and sear on all sides until browned, about 3 to 5 minutes per side. Transfer to a separate baking sheet and continue searing the rest of the meatballs in batches.

  • Step 3

    Make the sauce: Once the meatballs are transferred out of the pot, add the onions and garlic (without wiping the pot). Saute the onions and garlic, making sure to scrape the meat bits in the bottom of the pan from the meatballs, until the onions and garlic are translucent and lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Gently add the pureed and crushed tomatoes, water, salt, pepper, sugar, parsley and basil. Stir well and simmer the mixture uncovered over medium-low heat for 20 to 30 minutes, stirring often, or until the sauce starts to reduce. Gently place the meatballs into the tomato sauce and continue cooking uncovered, stirring occasionally, on a gentle simmer over low heat for 40 to 50 minutes until the sauce has thickened and the meatballs are cooked through and tender.

  • Step 4

    Serve the meatballs and red sauce hot with cooked spaghetti or ziti pasta.