The Boss’ Meatballs!

I once saw an episode of the Barefoot Contessa where Ina Garten had invited her boss to dinner.  She was wining and dining him with a fabulous Italian meal that was sure to show him who’s really the boss.  She made Spaghetti & Meatballs and I was in love. It is my fave meal and draw me into the screen that I kissed the TV set.  I went to work and did came up with my edited version of her traditional recipe, replacing ingredients clean, healthy and allergy-free (for me) ones, cause that’s how I roll.  Mange!

Serves 6


For the meatballs:

  • 1/2 pound ground veal
  • 1/2 pound ground pork
  • 1 pound ground beef, 80% lean meat, 20% fat
  • 1 1/2 cups Panko Japanese style bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons ginger paste
  • 2 tablespoons garlic paste
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons oregano
  • 2 tablespoons crushed red pepper
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pod fresh garlic
  • Olive oil

For the sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic (or garlic paste)
  • 1 cup red wine, I recommend your fave Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 2 (28-ounce) cans San Marzano crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons oregano
  • 2 tablespoons crushed red pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt (and to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (and to taste)


  • 1 pounds fresh whole wheat spaghetti, cooked according to package directions (note: I often eat these meatballs without spaghetti because I’m low-carb.  But if you need some pasta, I recommend going for something healthier like wheat, or gluten-free if you are.  There are terrific options out there these days!)
  • Parmesan cheese, freshly grated


Place all of the ground meats in a large bowl and mix together.  Then add all other ingredients and mix well together into the ground meats using your hands. Make sure all of the ingredients are nicely incorporated into the ground meats and then lightly roll the mixture into 2-inch meatballs. You should have ~16 meatballs.

Add olive oil into a large (12-inch) skillet to a depth of ~1/4-inch and heat.  Add the garlic pod into the oil when it is heated up. I do this because I like the garlic flavor in the oil but you can omit. Very carefully place the meatballs in the oil in batches and brown them well on all sides over medium-low heat, carefully turning them over so that they do not burn. Only brown them for until you do not see any more red on the outside of the meatball, approximately 2-3 minutes. I like to finish off and cook the meatballs in the sauce later.  Make sure you don’t crowd the meatballs when browning. Remove meatballs from the oil and place on a plate covered with paper towels. Discard the oil and the garlic pod, but don’t clean the pan and remember to be careful as the oil will still be hot.

For the sauce, heat olive oil in the same pan. Add the onion and saute over medium heat until translucent, 5 to 10 minutes. Add the basil, oregano and garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the wine and cook on high heat, scraping up all the brown bits in the pan, until almost all the liquid evaporates, about 3 minutes. Stir in the crushed tomatoes, crushed red pepper, salt and pepper.

Add the meatballs to the sauce, cover and simmer on the lowest heat for 25 to 30 minutes, until the meatballs are cooked through. Make the spaghetti and serve hot on the cooked spaghetti. Add grated Parmesan to the top and you’re ready for business!

Sonia’s suggested pairing: Valle Reale Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2005


  1. Hi there! Congrats on the great work!!! One question thou… what can I use to replace egg in any meatball receipe? My daughter is allergic to egg, egg white, cheese, chocolate, whey and preservatives. Any ideas. We are latin and Italian… go figure!



    • Hi Marti! Thanks for checking out my site and sorry to hear about her allergies. I know what it’s like! For meatballs the egg just really binds the ingredients together. So you can use milk instead. Not too much, start with 1/4 cup for this recipe. You can eyeball it and add a little more if you need. Is milk ok for her?

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