Classic Meatballs With Tomato Sauce

Spaghetti with meatballs and marinara sauce, is considered an American family favorite.  Many think this well-known favorite is Italian, but it isn’t. Italy has its version of meatballs, but they are called “polpettes” but they are not served with pasta.  Unlike most American meatballs, polpettes are typically made from turkey or fish and are much similar in size. In my house, homemade meatballs with tomato sauce are a staple, and the pasta is optional.

meatballs with tomato sauce

Italian immigrants who came to America in the early 1900s began making meatballs because meat was cheap.  The sauce was added later and started with what was called “sailor sauce“.  This basic marinara sauce came from Naples and is derived from the Italian word “marinara“, meaning “sailor“.  Spaghetti, one of the only Italian ingredients available in the States at that time, came last. And people soon began eating everything all together.

Meatballs Around The World

Meatballs are a much-loved savory staple in many cultures around the world, with slight variations and different names.  Here are just a few:

  • Denmark = “frikadeller
  • Poland, “klopsy
  • Turkey “inegol
  • Austria “fleischlaibchen
  • Finnland “lihapullat
  • Germany “frikadelle
  • Hungary “fasirt” 
  • Russia “koteleti” 
  • Spain “albondigas
  • Middle East “kofta
  • Israel “ktzitzot

My family loves meatballs with tomato sauce, straight up or with spaghetti swirled in.  I make meatballs several different ways, but this recipe is a more classic one using ground beef and veal.

But truthfully, the permutations of meatball making are endless, but cooking them requires a lot of practice. Gently making them with your hands, lightly browning them followed by slow stewing them gives you a delicious juicy meatball that you can’t resist. Meatballs with tomato sauce are a perfect weekday meal and especially welcoming in the cooler winter months.

meatballs with tomato sauce

About the Author

Andrea Potischman

I am a professionally trained NYC chef turned CA mom and food blogger. I post about real food, with doable ingredient lists that are family friendly.

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