Spaghetti and Meatballs for Two


Pasta and meatballs in tomato sauce twirl together onto a fork and then dance with your taste buds. All the elements work in concert: The spaghetti is slightly firm in contrast to the tender meatballs, made with beef and pork, and crushed red pepper flakes add fire and spice to the familiar sauce.


  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon olive oil

  • teaspoon crushed red-pepper flakes

  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic

  • 1 can (28 ounces) whole peeled tomatoes, pulsed in blender until almost smooth

  • Coarse salt

  • ¼ cup whole milk

  • 1 slice (4 inches square and ½ inch thick) white bread, crust removed

  • ½ pound ground pork

  • ½ pound lean ground beef

  • ¼ cup freshly grated aged pecorino Romano cheese, plus more for serving

  • ¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving

  • 1 large egg

  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

  • teaspoon freshly ground pepper

  • ¼ teaspoon dried marjoram

  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped shallot

  • 8 ounces spaghetti


  1. Heat 1 tablespoon oil, the red-pepper flakes, and 1/2 teaspoon garlic in a large saucepan over medium heat until garlic is sizzling, about 30 seconds. Stir in tomatoes and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Reduce heat to low; simmer 30 minutes.

  2. Heat milk in a saucepan over low heat until warm; remove from heat. Add bread; turn bread until milk is absorbed.

  3. When cool enough to handle, squeeze out excess milk. Finely chop bread; place in a large bowl. Discard milk. Add meats, cheeses, egg, parsley, 1/2 teaspoon salt, the pepper, marjoram, remaining 1 teaspoon oil and 1/2 teaspoon garlic, and the shallot. Using your hands, mix until just combined. Moisten hands, and roll meat mixture into balls of different sizes: nine 1-inch balls, six 1 1/2-inch balls, and two 2-inch balls. Place on a baking sheet.

  4. Add 2-inch meatballs to simmering sauce. After 5 minutes, add 1 1/2-inch balls. After 5 minutes, add 1-inch balls. Stir.

  5. Meanwhile, bring a large stockpot of water to a boil; add salt. Add pasta; cook until al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain; return pasta to pot. Add 1/4 cup sauce; toss. Serve pasta in bowls with meatballs and extra sauce, and cheese on the side.

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