1 recipe meatballs (recipe follows)
1 1/2 cups basic tomato sauce (recipe follows)
1 pound Barilla spaghetti
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
3 cups day-old bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 1/4 pounds ground chuck beef
3 eggs, beaten
3 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1/4 cup finely chopped Italian parsley
1/4 cup pine nuts, baked for 3-4 min. in a 400˚F oven
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Basic tomato sauce:
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 Spanish onion, chopped into 1/4-inch dice
4 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
3 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme leaves, or 1 tablespoon dried
1/2 medium carrot, finely shredded
1 (28-ounce) cans peeled whole tomatoes, crushed by hand and juices reserved
For the meatballs: In a shallow bowl, soak the bread cubes in water to cover for a minute or two. Drain the bread cubes and squeeze with your fingers to press out the excess moisture.
In a large bowl, combine the bread cubes, beef, eggs, garlic, Pecorino Romano, parsley, toasted pine nuts, salt, and pepper and mix with your hands to incorporate. With wet hands, form 12 to 15 meatballs, each about the size of a golf ball.
In a large, heavy-bottomed skillet, heat 1 cup oil until smoking. Cook the meatballs in the oil until golden brown and cooked through, working in batches if necessary to avoid overcrowding the pan. Remove the meatballs to a plate lined with paper towels and keep warm.
For the tomato sauce: In a 3-quart saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic, cook until soft, and light golden brown, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add the thyme and carrot and cook 5 minutes more, until the carrot is quite soft. Add the tomatoes and juice and bring to a boil, stirring often. Lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes until as thick as hot cereal. Season with salt and serve. This sauce holds 1 week in the refrigerator or up to 6 months in the freezer.
1) Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot and add 2 tablespoons salt. Add the pasta and cook according to the package instructions.
2) Meanwhile, in a 10- to 12-inch sauté pan, combine the tomato sauce and the meatballs. Heat through.
3) Once pasta is al dente, drain in a colander and quickly toss the hot pasta to the sauté pan with the meatballs, and toss gently to mix.
4) Divide equally among 4 warmed pasta bowls and sprinkle Parmigiano cheese. Serve immediately.
Inspired by Kristin Davis’ favorite pasta dish, recreated by Mario Batali
Excerpted from The Celebrity Pasta Lovers' Cookbook with permission from Barilla USA. Photos by Lou Manna.