Spaghetti and Meatballs is actually the perfect giveaway dish, unlike Lasagna with Meat Sauce which has several marks against it.
Lasagna with Meat Sauce is a great ‘give-away’ dish, don’t get me wrong.
I love pasta, I love the layers, I love the cheese.
I do not love how my butt size varies in direct proportion to how much lasagna I eat.
But I digress.
Lasagna is also a classic dish to give to someone. It’s relatively easy to make, it travels well, holds well, reheats well and is almost universally loved.
Unless you’re gluten intolerant, lactose intolerant, vegetarian etc etc etc.
But, again, I digress.
One thing that annoys me about lasagna is how deceptively, sneakily expensive it is.
Let’s do the math, shall we?
Lasagna with Meat Sauce
- Pasta: $2
- Sauce: $9 (yes, yes, I’m addicted to Rao’s Marinara which is expensive. Call it $3 if you want to Ragu/Prego)
- Mozz: $5
- Ricotta: $4
- Ground Beef: $2
- Italian Sausage: $2
- Basil: $2
- Parmigiano Reggiano: $3
That’s $29 ($23 with cheaper sauce) for a 9×13 pan of lasagna. Cook’s Illustrated says a 9×13 serves 6.
That seems pricey for what’s basically a casserole with no side dishes.
Now let’s take a look at Spaghetti and Meatballs.
Spaghetti & Meatballs
- Pasta: $2
- Sauce: $9 / $3
- Ground Beef: $5
- Ground Pork: $1
- Parmigiano Reggiano: $1
- Misc spices, milk, egg: $1
That’s $19 (or $16) for Spaghetti and Meatballs.
Regardless of my Lasagna conspiracy theory, the truly great thing about Spaghetti and Meatballs is that one dish can serve everyone in the family.
Just package the components separately and everyone is happy; picky kids who want plain noodles, vegetarians who don’t want meatballs, and hearty eaters who don’t think it’s dinner unless something was killed to be put on the plate.
So the next time you’re taking a dish consider something that might be a little less traditional but is actually more enjoyable for all of the recipients.
After all, that’s what it’s really about.
Spaghetti and Meatballs
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced about 2 teaspoons
- 1 - 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
- 1 - 14 ounce can diced tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons chopped basil about 8 leaves
- Sugar to taste
- Salt to taste
- 1/3 cup fresh bread crumbs
- 1/3 cup milk
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 clove garlic, minced about 1 teaspoon
- ¼ cup parmesan
- ¾-1 pound 85% ground beef
- ¼ pound ground pork
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon pepper
- Bring water to boil in a large pot or Dutch oven and cook spaghetti according to package directions.
- While water heats, heat oil over medium heat in a large skillet that has a lid, or a Dutch oven. Add garlic and sauté for 30 seconds, do not brown.
- Add both cans of tomatoes, increase heat to medium high and to bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to medium low.
- Mix breadcrumbs, milk, egg yolk and garlic until combined. Mix in parmesan.
- Gently combine beef and pork. Add bread mixture, salt and pepper. Form into 1 ½ inch meatballs, about 14-16.
- Taste sauce and add ¼ teaspoon sugar and/or 1 teaspoon salt if needed.
- Add meatballs to sauce. Adjust heat to maintain a simmer. Cover and cook for 15 minutes checking once to make sure they’re not sticking to the bottom. Cook until meatballs are 165 degrees on an instant read thermometer.