Bella Notte Jumbo Italian Meatballs & Quickie Spaghetti Putanesca
  • Cooking Time: 50 minutes
  • Servings: 8-12
  • Preparation Time: 20 minutes
  • For the meatballs:
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for brushing
  • 3 1/2 cups torn stale Italian bread (about 1/4 loaf)
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 pounds ground beef chuck
  • 1 small bunch parsley, chopped(about 1 cup)
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 clove garlic, grated
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • For the spaghetti Putanesca sauce:
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 can anchovies
  • 2 28-ounce cans of crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons of capers
  • 1 cup of black olives, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon of oregano
  • pepper
  • light on Kosher salt
  • spaghetti, cooked per package directions
  1. Make the meatballs: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and brush a baking sheet with olive oil. Pulse the bread in a food processor to make coarse crumbs. Transfer to a small bowl, add the milk and set aside to soak. Lightly beat the eggs in a large bowl, then add the beef, parsley, parmesan, garlic, 1 teaspoon salt and the red pepper flakes; mix with your hands to combine. Add the bread-milk mixture and mix until just combined (do not overmix). Dampen your hands and shape the meat mixture into 4 large balls. Arrange the meatballs on the prepared baking sheet and bake until browned and firm, 25 to 30 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, follow directions below and make the Putanesca sauce and boil spaghetti according to package directions.
  3. Remove the meatballs from the oven and add to the sauce, spooning some of the sauce on top. Continue cooking, occasionally spooning the sauce over the meatballs, until tender and cooked through, about 6 minutes. Serve with ricotta and chopped basil.
  4. You can form all of these meatballs a day ahead; cover and refrigerate until ready to cook.
  5. Putanesca Spaghetti sauce: Saute garlic in oil, add can of anchovies and cook until anchovies disintegrate, then sprinkle in the red pepper flakes. Add the two cans of crushed tomatoes. As sauce begins to cook, add the capers, olives, oregano, salt and pepper. Let sauce simmer for 30 minutes. Stir in cooked spaghetti.
Alec used to sing: "Give me the meatballs to soothe my soul, I want to get lost in your big fat roll and drift away." Special note: the spaghetti minus the meatballs, and served instead with seafood is used for our Christmas Eve tradition. Putanesca made with anchovies in Italian means "quickie" or "like a prostitute" sauce.