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+ servings

SpaghettiOs For the Grown-up's Table


  • 2 (28 oz) cans whole peeled tomatoes
  • ¼ cup Panko bread crumbs
  • 1 Tbsp coarsely grated Parmesan + more for serving
  • ½ tsp dried oregano
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder
  • ¼ tsp crushed red pepper flakes (more or less, depending on your tolerance for heat)
  • fine grain sea salt + freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 5 Tbsp heavy cream
  • 1 lb ground beef chuck
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • ½ medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large garlic clove, finely grated
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tsp sweet paprika
  • 1 Tbsp natural sugar
  • 4 large sprigs basil
  • 12 oz anelletti ditalini, or other short tubular pasta


  • Purée tomatoes in a food processor until mostly smooth; set aside
  • Whisk panko, cheese, oregano, garlic powder, ¼ tsp. red pepper flakes, and 1½ tsp. sea salt in a medium bowl.
  • Whisk in egg and cream. Add the beef and mix with your hands until just combined, being careful not to overwork (if packed too firmly, meatballs will be dense).
  • Form into 1"-diameter balls (you should have about 24); transfer to a plate.
  • Heat oil in a large skillet, over medium-high.
  • Cook the meatballs, turning occasionally until lightly browned on all sides but not fully cooked through (~ 5 minutes). Transfer to another plate.
  • Cook onion and garlic in a skillet, stirring occasionally, until onion is translucent and begins to soften (~ 5 minutes) season with salt and pepper.
  • Add tomato paste and cook until brick red (~ 1 minute)
  • Add paprika and a pinch of red pepper flakes and cook until fragrant (~ 1 minute)
  • Add sugar, basil, and reserved tomato purée. Reduce heat and simmer until sauce is slightly reduced and flavors have melded (~ 20 minutes)
  • Add meatballs and any accumulated juices; continue to cook until meatballs are cooked through, 5–10 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Drain and return to pasta pot. Pour sauce and meatballs over pasta and stir to combine.
  • Transfer to a platter and top with cheese.