Soft jazz played in the background as I walked through the house lighting candles
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our first Spaghetti Saturday
A kitty cat kept watch at our front door, mesmerized by the big beautiful snowflakes on the other side of the glass; the first snow of the season. We poured a couple of glasses of wine and checked on dinner one last time. Over 100 meatballs, two big pots of spaghetti noodles, and tomato sauce simmering in the crock-pot. It was everything I'd envisioned, and more.
This very special night was about so much more than dinner. Every person who would walk through the door that evening was someone near and dear to our hearts.
“Here's what we've decided to do to make our lives happier. We're starting a new tradition we'll call Spaghetti Saturdays.
Starting in November, we'll be cooking spaghetti and meatballs on the 3rd Saturday of every month. There will be jazz playing and candles flickering as we sit down to eat together, along with anyone else who'd like to join us
This is our attempt to spend time with the people we love so very much. You're invited.”
It wasn't long before our little house was filled with friends, neighbors, colleagues, and family. Fifteen of the most interesting people you'd ever want to meet.
By trade, there were professors, fitness center owners, jazz musicians, an accountant, a nurse, fast food franchise owner, director at a state agency, a technical writing editor. Their nationalities were just as diverse. One a native of Russia, another from India, yet another from Germany, with many others having lived overseas, and various places throughout the US
While no one was privy to the guest list ahead of time, most could count on knowing at least one other person. One of my favorite things? Hearing a delighted
“Oh my gosh, I can't believe you're here too! Wait, how do you know them?”
The hours flew by, one glass of wine turned into two, and plates of spaghetti were filled and refilled. The sides everyone brought made fantastic compliments. Dessert included such things as rice pudding(!) red quinoa cookies, pecan muffins, and cream puffs.
With each story told, our worlds got a bit smaller, our evening a little brighter, and our hearts that much warmer.
What an incredible evening. I have a feeling we're onto something terribly extraordinary
(much more to come)
It only made sense to head straight to a trusted source when it came to an event as special as this, and Bon Appetit rarely disappoints.
The meatballs a combination of half Italian sausage and half ground beef. Pine nuts and currants as an addition, were completely unexpected, in the best of ways. Gluten-free breadcrumbs made from homemade artisan bread, without anybody being the wiser.
We made the meatball mix a couple of days ahead of time, giving the flavors a chance to meld in the fridge. Cooking them the afternoon of was a breeze. Lots of recipes online let them warm in the sauce before serving, we decided to keep them separate. What little was left-over, tucked away in the freezer as protein for meals down the road.
As the weekend draws to a close, I can't help but be grateful. What a wonderful group of people we're lucky enough to call family and friends.
Thank you not only for coming but most of all, thank you for your incredible love and friendship
We can't wait for next month
ps: More fun recipes and stories from Spaghetti Saturdays
— — —
~ Adapted from Bon Appetit | September 1999
Spaghetti and Sicilian Meatballs
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 ½ cups chopped onion
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 (28 oz) cans diced tomatoes in juice
- ¼ cup chopped fresh basil, divided
- ½ lb ground beef (80 or 85% is best for these)
- ½ lb Italian pork sausage
- ⅔ cup breadcrumbs (gluten-free if you’re avoiding gluten)
- 3 Tbsp milk
- ⅓ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- ¼ cup finely chopped onion
- 3 Tbsp chopped fresh basil
- 1 egg (large or XL)
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- ½ tsp ground black pepper
- 2 Tbsp pine nuts, toasted
- 2 Tbsp dried currants
- 1 lb spaghetti noodles
- Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Set aside
- Heat the oil in a heavy large pot over medium-low heat. Add onion the onion and sauté until golden (~ 10 minutes)
- Add the garlic and continue to sauté for another minute or so.
- Increase the heat to medium-high, add the tomatoes (along with their juice) and 2 Tbsp basil. Bring to a boil.
- Reduce the heat low and simmer until the sauce has thickened, breaking up the tomatoes with a fork (~ an hour). Stir in the remaining 2 Tbsp basil.
- Season with salt and pepper. Set sauce aside
- Preheat oven to 350° F and line baking sheets with parchment paper.
- In a medium-sized bowl, combine the bread crumbs and milk. Let stand for 5 minutes.
- Add parmesan, onion, basil, egg, garlic, and pepper. Add sausage, ground beef, pine nuts, and currants. Blend well.
- Using wet hands, form mixture into 2-inch balls and place them on the baking sheet. Bake until the meatballs are light brown and cooked through (~ 30-35 minutes)
- Add to the sauce.
- Serve hot over pasta
Made these tonight with my 9-year-old grandson, and we had so much fun. The perfect end to our snowy day here in Montana. Thanks, Ali!
Ali, the only thought I can manage, on the grayest morning of the sleepiest Friday of the most dreary month, is: your writing is wonderful. Thanks for this post and for writing so winningly about being with friends. xo
Ali, we’ve made these several times, and it’s become our go-to meatball recipe, but I want to thank you for it especially tonight. We’re having Valentine’s Day in, and this was the perfect meal! We were like Lady and the Tramp — spaghetti + meatballs = true romance!
I made this yesterday for the second time and it is – hands down – the yummiest meatball recipe ever. It made a lot of meatballs which means lots of leftovers in the freezer (just waiting to turn into meatball subs and two more nights with spaghetti). The little people ate this with gusto and my husband and I relished every bite. Heavenly!
Just beautiful writing. And it didn’t hurt that I’m reading it on a day when the sky is blue, and the sun is shining. Yes, it’s still twenty degrees outside, but with a little sun and a fire going, it doesn’t seem to matter.
So with something lovely to read, a damn good cup of coffee, and a little sunshine, I’m convinced that at least for this minute all’s right with my world.
I wish the same to everyone who visits this blog, and, of course, to you, Ali.
I am totally craving Spaghetti now. There is something so satisfying about this meal. Looks absolutely delicious and tempting.
Spaghetti Saturdays! I love it! We actually eat spaghetti around here once a week already so I may steal this and start a new tradition lol I love those moments in life that let you know just how small our world really is..
This sounds wonderful! I love the idea of Spaghetti Saturdays and would love to do something similar, although in our case it would be a BBQ as my fiance or myself aren’t very talented when it comes to savory foods. I’ll just wow with the desserts. This recipe sounds lovely.
Holy cow! Clouds are parting. Birds are singing. This is the best spaghetti and meatballs I have EVER made. It’s not just the wine I’m drinking people (I had to open a bottle for this, of course). This is really great! An awesome Sunday dinner for my hubby and three little ones.
Sounds like a lovely way to ‘wine’ the evening away. My mummy would love to have an open-door policy and have a dining room big enough to entertain guests, maybe one day. The meatballs look divine…can we come over? 😉
Your dish looks amazing. I cannot wait to try this recipe.
Mmm, this sounds like the perfect Sunday night dinner. I love spaghetti and meatballs, but my meatballs never come out quite right. I have a memory of my grandmother’s meatballs and “gravy” (what Italians call spaghetti sauce), and I’ve never been able to recreate it, although my mom has come quite close. Word on the street is that soaking your bread in milk before adding to the meatballs makes them that much better, but I always feel weird about it. I think regular old breadcrumbs are more up my alley…
Sounds like such a nice and sweet tradition to cook for the people dear to you. I have never tried Sicilian meatballs, the spaghetti looks so delicious, would love to try these out and your recipe. Your pictures have made me hungry already.
Your Spaghetti Saturday sounds so much fun! Glad to know that you started this tradition and what a great way to meet family and friends and make some wonderful memories to treasure for a lifetime! Your spaghetti and Sicilian meatballs look divine and I bet, it would have been a great hit!
Pasta is perfect for large gatherings. It’s affordable, simple and can be jazzed up any way you like it.
Oh yum! Can’t go wrong with a hearty spaghetti dinner! Those meatballs are HUGE and look delicious! And you guys made 100?! That’s awesome! Sounds like a fun tradition!
Your recipes make me wish that we reach a point where I can just reach into my computer and grab the food in front of me. This looks SO GOOD.
So nice to read this because it reminded me of how I like small and private things. Now I understand why I always photograph my own environment, and it feels so natural. I’ve just started reading your blog and I loved this close feeling.
A spaghetti dinner party sounds awesome! A meal that is simple enough, but still quite delicious. I am sure your guests loved it!
That sounds like it was a magical night! It sounds like you have a great array of Friends from over the world! That meatballs and spaghetti is like the perfect meal it’s easy to make and everybody loves spaghetti.
I love this idea and may have to do something similar. You know I don’t even know if my kids have listened to Jazz!
Makes meal planning easier too but without it becoming boring.
I would love to experience one of your dinner parties! They all seem so special and you talk so nicely about all the people invited that I’d love to meet them: the Russian, the Indian, the German… and no wonder they kept filling their plates up, the food looks delicious!
My mother grew up next to a Sicilian family in New Jersey and learned how to make really good sauce and meatballs (her signature dish!). However, I have found that if, after you cook the meatballs, you intend to put them in the sauce, it is a huge timesaver to bake the meatballs instead of frying/sauteing them. No favor is lost, and you can add the scrapings from your baking sheet to enhance the sauce.
Spaghetti Saturdays are a great idea! A get-together with friends is always the best, especially when someone else is cooking. I recently found my perfect spaghetti and meatballs recipe, and it is very similar to yours! One little addition that I think rocks is a little chunk of mozzarella in the center of each meatball. It’s a little ooey-gooey surprise. Delicious!
What a beautiful story. I think the best time happen around a table. I had no idea that Sicilian meatballs had that combo. Sounds delicious!
Oh yum you can’t beat spaghetti and meatballs. Will definitely try out your meatball recipe as it’s different from how hubby does ours.
Such a simple classic dish and miraculous displayed within your photos. A meal that is sure to please even the pickiest of eaters.
Spaghetti Saturday is a great idea. When we move into a bigger house I want to have a monthly Sunday Brunch with all invited. The spaghetti and meatballs look delicious.
Finished making the sauce and meatballs this afternoon and kept them separate, but in the fridge until dinner time. My family is going to be surprised. My mom used to make a recipe very similar to this except she sauteed green bell pepper with the onion so this feels like comfort food to me. I added fresh oregano to the sauce to bridge the gap between the more traditional sweet tomato sauce. Have a loaf of your no-knead bread rising too! Thanks for the recipe and for mixing it up a little. xx
I’ve always wondered where this recipe came from. I mean, who first thought about combining spaghetti and meatballs? In Italy we eat spaghetti with tomato sauce and also meatballs but never together in the same dish. The first and only time I had spaghetti with meatballs was when I traveled in the U.S.
My recipe for meatballs is similar but I use fresh bread torn in pieces and dumped for a while in water or milk and no onion in the mix. In Italy, the marinara sauce pasta is never dressed with Parmesan….
I’d say it’s a wonderful tradition to start especially since it’s all about togetherness. There’s nothing like meeting friends and coming together to catch up and enjoy good food. I’d love to do this as well. I think it’s brilliant!
We were planning on having spaghetti tonight but I’ve never made my own meatballs. I’ll have to give it a shot!
My husband would go crazy over this recipe and I would love to be invited to a Spaghetti Saturday! I wish I was your neighbor. It sounds like so much fun.
I don’t think there is anything better than homemade meatballs. I am actually looking for a gluten-free version (without breadcrumbs). Spaghetti & meatballs is always a hit in our house.
I know this is an older post, but I have to say – I make this ALL the time and it’s a family favorite. Thanks, Ali!
It sounds like you had one wonderful evening with people dear to you. Those are some of the best nights and memories that will stay with you the rest of your life. Cherish those moments!
I can’t believe you had some snow too, ours just doesn’t seem to want to stop! The meatballs and spaghetti sounds so yummy x
You got me at jazz music! You sold me on pine nuts and black currants in the meatballs. Never thought of currants, but I can imagine the taste. Gonna try it!
My mom taught me the best way to make a tender meatball. No matter what you put in them (meat, herbs, fresh vs prepackaged breadcrumbs, etc), after making your mixture and forming the meatballs, put them in some sort of container and cover them and refrigerate them for an hour or so.
Just remember to take them out of the fridge and let them warm up a bit before baking them. I promise, your meatballs will be even better!
I’m not really fond of pasta, except for spaghetti. That’s just too good not to eat with pleasure.
This dish looks absolutely delicious, the meatballs especially! <3
Everyone thinks I’m a true Italian!! THE MOST DELICIOUS/Easy Spaghetti&Meatballs recipe BAR NONE! This will be on my meal “rotation” from now on!! Thanks!!
I love the feel of deep bliss that fills me whenever I have house guests and we’ve just finished dinner. My husband and I sometimes host a pancake breakfast, open invite to neighbors and friends. After all the pancakes have been eaten, there’s this calm happiness that just fills those empty plates back up.
This Spaghetti and Meatballs recipe sounds amazing. I wonder if I can adapt it to be gluten-free…maybe some experimenting will ensue on this cold Friday morning.
I love the tradition you created with cooking for the people dear to you. Your stories in your posts always make me smile. I hope you have many more amazing special Saturdays to come.
Oh my goodness, you now have me thinking about Spaghetti Saturdays too! I just told my husband now I am craving Spaghetti and meatballs tomorrow! What a beautiful meal experience. I can’t wait to try this recipe out! Yum! and thanks!
My kids love spaghetti and meatballs. I am sure they’re going to love this too! I’ll make some for them.
It’s been way too long since I’ve had a good pot of spaghetti. I don’t think I’ve ever had it this way before but I’m all about firsts.
Oh my goodness I love this idea of gathering lots of people together for a crazy dinner party! We might just have to do this!
Wow, once again fantastic pictures and I love the idea of Spaghetti Saturdays! My go-to recipe for spaghetti and meatballs has been the one in Nigella Bites – it’s in the Rainy Day Cooking section and I’ve been making double batches of the meatballs, freezing them down, and then making the sauce fresh as we need it. Half of a standard recipe tends to feed 2 hungry adults, 1 pre-schooler, extra helping for “the man” and some leftovers for lunch the next day – so all in all fantastic. The best bit about these is that the meatballs don’t need par-baking or frying, they are just gently popped into the sauce. So excited to try your version!
Wow, the meatball certainly look so huge! I love spaghetti as it is easy to make but I never try out with the meatball. I hope to try make the meatball but it will be a smaller version, may be half of the size of the one in the picture. The meatball in the picture is just too huge and I can’t put it in my mouth!
If there is a type of food I’m obsessed with at the moment, then it is spaghetti! This recipe will come in handy for me when I’m preparing my lunch next time. I also love meatballs. Your pictures make the whole dish look even sweeter and more delicious!I can’t wait to try this out! I’m pinning this infact!
Ok, this recipe has been on my back burner since I discovered your blog. Amazing. We made this with Caesar salad on the side. My true test of a new recipe is when fiance wants to make it for someone else other than us. About halfway through his first meatball, he asked, “Who can we make this for?”
Excellent recipe! I’ll be making this with the edamame noodles I just bought. For a vegan version, ground beef can be easily substituted for canned or boiled beans, drained and mashed (still leaving a few whole beans and lumps in the mix). Sounds delish!!
never tried sicilian meatballs! Thanks! It ‘reads’ tasty and I will try it next time as meatball variation.
Yes, killer, and I’m so glad to see the addition of pine nuts, just like Frankies in Brooklyn. Thanks!
Sounds like a perfect way to spend an evening. I love creating special meals for gatherings. Want to know something crazy? I have only made my own meatballs once! Maybe I am lazy! ha!
I made this for the first time three or four years ago, and it is my absolute go-to recipe for meatballs. I follow this recipe exactly and double or triple it so I can keep some in the freezer. xx
It sounds like you had a great evening, and the spaghetti looks amazing. Those meatballs! I’d love to try it.
It’s always nice when you can get together with friends. I love when people invite me over for dinner and they are cooking. I just love spaghetti and meatballs! We have it often.
We always did Spaghetti on Wednesdays in our Italian house because Wednesday is Prince Spaghetti Day 🙂 I loved growing up in a big Italian household because we ate GOOD.
This turned out AMAZING!! Made me feel so fancy trying a twist on traditional spaghetti!
I love me a good bowl of spaghetti and meatballs. So i know this is a recipe i would love. I can’t wait to try.
To date, I haven’t really been a fan of spaghetti and meatballs, nor was my husband. However, I made these last weekend by request from a friend who was in need of comfort food (aren’t we all these days?). Other than doubling the sauce and omitting the red pepper flakes, I followed the recipe to the letter, never having made anything like it before.
I report they were wonderful! Just the thing we needed. Ali, you changed my mind on this classic dish. We will surely be making them again 🙂
Totally loving the fact that you added pine nuts and currants to those meat balls! Looks absolutely delicious and what a beautiful story to what seemed to be such a successful evening.
Wow, now I want to start a tradition like this as well. I also love Bon Appetit as well. I and my husband enjoy watching their recipe and try them out. I haven’t eaten spaghetti in such a long time. I will do this recipe this week. I wonder if our small future apartment will be big enough to start a tradition like this.
This spaghetti is perfect for the weekend family gatherings. Your pictures are stunning, made me crave for pasta this rainy afternoon.
What a wonderful tradition to start every month. Bringing your friends together and meeting new friends over great music, conversation and laughter. The food is just the topping.
That monthly dinner idea sounds fantastic. Those meatballs look pretty darn good too.
Nothing makes me happy them opening time with friends, family and loved ones. Sounds like you all had a great gathering. That Spaghetti and Sicilian Meatballs looks amazing!
Lovely, I think you’ve inspired me to do something similar, once I clear it with my 5-person household. Thank you for the recipe also. I’ve never thought to put currants in meatballs. Something else to look forward to trying.
If you ask me, there is nothing more comforting than spaghetti and meatballs. My boys ask for it for dinner every time they have a rough day at school. It’s like a hug in a bowl.
Made this for dinner tonight, and it was delicious – hubby and girls gave their two thumbs up! Thanks for the awesome recipe. 🙂
I made this last night for friends who have just welcomed a brand new baby. I packed up about half and delivered it with some good dried pasta, bread, and parmesan.
The remaining sauce was too irresistible to put away…pasta-less, I sat down with a bowl of sauce & meatballs, a hunk of crusty bread, and a glass of something bubbly…heaven!
Wow, this looks and sounds SO good! My family and I are vegan, but my wife and daughters are super creative and I think they could veganize the meatballs. There are frozen vegan meatballs that we could buy, but that would be an injustice to this from scratch recipe. We’ve never made our own sauce, so I’m super excited to try that part, whether we do add the meatballs or not.
Such a darling post about family and friendship, and what better way to come together than sharing a tasty dish such as this. I never thought about using pine nuts before, it would certainly add a different element to the dish.
My grandmother always adds fresh mint (in addition to parsley) to her meatballs. Also, we gave up frying them decades ago. Much easier and less greasy to bake them. I like the final product better too.
Bake at 350 about 20 minutes, then turn meatballs and bake another 20 minutes or so.
The sauce is all about a l-o-n-g, s-l-o-w simmer. Don’t add your meatballs to the sauce until you put the water on to boil for the pasta, otherwise, they fall apart in the sauce.
This is the best meatball recipe I have found yet! My family loves it…I have experimented with this recipe a lot. I cooked the meatballs in regular store-bought sauce, which was good… and I have even tried making the meatballs with ground turkey and cooked them in a cranberry sauce, which was also delicious.
How absolutely delicious does this look, I do have a love for Spaghetti and Meatballs and this seems like it is done so well. do you think I could switch out the beef for turkey?
Can you believe that it has been over 4 years since you hosted your very first Spaghetti Saturday and look how far you have come since. I love the idea of creating an event, where the guests can network with long lost friends or even make new pals. In our society its so important to forge connections, as adult life can be so isolating sometimes. Laughter and food is the perfect antidote.
My grandmother came from Abbruzzi, and this is what she put in her meatballs and sauce: ground round mixed with eggs, parsley, grated Romano cheese, breadcrumbs grated from a day-old Italian roll, chopped garlic and salt and pepper. She browned the meatballs in lard, then put in a few cloves of garlic and cooked them until they were golden. Then she poured in Italian tomatoes, brought them to a boil then lowered the heat to a simmer. She put in salt, pepper, dried basil, and 1 bay leaf. She cooked the meatballs in the sauce for about 90 min. That was her meatballs and sauce, and it was fantastic.
This sounds like such a cool thing to do with your Saturdays. I know having those near and dear to you, eating dinner and just sharing a little bit of yourself with one another . . . it’s heaven really. And having it all come with great comfort food is a good thing as well. The spaghetti and meatballs does look delicious. I really miss the days of dinner parties and hanging out with friends.
I was leery of making this without first pre-cooking the meatballs, but this is by far the best spaghetti and meatballs I have ever made. The meatballs ended up a nice brown color, they were not overcooked and I think putting them in before browning allowed some of the meat flavor to seep into the sauce. I great recipe!
Spaghetti and meatballs are one of my favorite pasta dishes. I’ve always thought that it’s a kind of New York(ish) pasta dish because I’ve seen it cooked in so many different films based in New York like ”The apartment” for instance where Jack Lemon uses his tennis racket to drain the spaghetti! So fun to read about your Spaghetti Saturday dinners, sure wish I lived closer so I could beg an invite! xo
Ok, I’ll try this recipe this weekend – but more important: can I come, too, the next time you are getting all these people together? I promise I’ll behave ?
Looks so yummy its making me want to go back to Italy. Molto Bene!