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spaghetti with meat balls
Spaghetti with Meat Balls (with tomatoes)
Originated from: Italy
Occasion: Any time
Contributed by: Taken from "Italian Cooking" by Dorothy Daly

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1 lb. spaghetti or macaroni, cooked as directed
1 small onion
1 or 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large tin tomatoes
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 pint water
1 tablespoon brown sugar
a good pinch of oregano if available, or failing this a pinch of dried thyme
pepper and salt to taste

Meat Balls:
1 lb. lean beef passed through the mincer
2 thick slices white bread
1 small onion
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
3 ozs. grated Parmesan
1 egg
Salt and pepper to taste

For pasta topping
Parmesan cheese


For meat balls

"Soak the bread in water, squeeze dry and mash with a fork, and to it add the onion chopped finely, the parsley, ground beef, cheese and seasonings. Beat the egg lightly and combine with the foregoing mixture; shape into small balls -- this amount should make about 12 and fry in hot fat. Drain and set aside."

For sauce

"Heat the oil in a heavy pan, and chopped onion and crushed garlic and cook till golden; add strained tomatoes, tomato paste thinned down with a little water, the balance of the half pint of water, sugar, oregano, pepper and salt; lower heat, cover and cook slowly for an hour.

At the end of an hour, add the meat balls, cover pan once more and allow to cook slowly for another half an hour before serving over the freshly cooked spaghetti.

With this dish hand a bowl of freshly grated Parmesan, to be added at will."


This recipe was taken from "Italian Cooking" by Dorothy Daly. It was published by Spring Books in Great Britain. For the complete copyright-free cookbook see www.archive.org....P.S. It's hard to believe but it seems that Dorothy Daly was the one of the few English-speaking cookbook author who wrote in the middle of the 20th century to include a "spaghetti with meat balls" recipe in her collection. The other food writers whose books can be viewed at www.archive.org do include recipes for spaghetti tossed with tomato sauce, but they do not include meat balls. Of all the dishes brought over from the old country, "spaghetti with meat balls" surely is the one recipe that defines Italian North American cuisine. Whether that's a good thing or a bad thing is open to debate, but the fact is that Dorothy Daly, unlike the other cookbook writers of her time, had a knack for signaling out what was truly popular with the people. She captured the heart and soul of Italian cuisine, including samples from both the North and the South. That said, prior to World War II, "spaghetti with meat balls" would have been a dish that only the rich could afford on a day to day basis, as meat was then perceived as a delicacy, something one would only serve at festive occasions. Actually, even spaghetti, because it was a difficult style of pasta to do (No pasta makers back then) was done only for Christmas Eve and perhaps, Easter Sunday. Photo and notes: Mary Melfi.

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