EF Family Cookbook: Classic Spaghetti and Meatballs Recipe

Everlasting Footprint Family Treasures Cookbook Recipes

For the third treasured recipe for our Everlasting Footprint Family Cookbook, Liz Grear shares her family recipe for a classic dinner.

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My Pop-pop was one of the funniest, loudest, goofiest people I’ve ever known. He was always bursting with stories and jokes, and he could make anyone laugh. When my older brother and I were young, we would spend summers in New Jersey at Mom-mom and Pop-pop’s house, taking trips to the shore, playing whiffle ball in the backyard, and getting ice cream after a game of miniature golf.

There were many wonderful parts of these summers, but perhaps the best part was Mom-mom’s home cooking, and the way Pop-pop devoured all of it. She would ask, “Honey, what do you want for dinner tonight? Hamburgers or spaghetti?” And he would reply, “Yes.” And we all laughed.

But spaghetti always won. Pop-pop loved pasta and Mom-mom’s homemade red sauce and meatballs. My fondest memories include the sounds of sauce bubbling in the background, and the smell of tomatoes lingering in the air. In honor of one of my Pop-pop’s favorites, here is my Mom-mom’s red sauce and meatball recipe; the recipe that forever reminds me of watching the Eagles play on TV, with Pop-pop shouting and smiling, bowl in hand.

Treasured Family Recipe: Classic Spaghetti and Meatballs

Spaghetti Sauce Ingredients :

Combine in one large bowl:

  • 1 can of tomatoes, cut into smaller chunks
  • 1 small can of puree (about 6oz, Mom-mom would suggest)
  • 1 can of tomato sauce (about 16 oz)
  • Sprinkle all seasonings you like (Mom-mom used oregano, garlic, fresh-ground pepper, and salt)


Let all ingredients cook until it bubbles, but is not quite boiling. Then turn the heat to low and simmer for four to six hours.

Meatball Ingredients:

  • 1 pound of ground beef
  • 2-3 large white onions, chopped
  • 2-3 large red or green peppers, chopped finely
  • 1 egg (or more to your liking)
  • Mix well and roll it into a small ball

Meatball Instruction:

Mom-mom baked meatballs on a cookie sheet in the oven, rather than frying them, because the oven helped “Cook the fat out.” This should take about 12-15 minutes at 350 degrees, depending on the oven.

Spaghetti and Meatballs

The Everlasting Footprint Storybook is the perfect place to share, collect, and collaborate on family recipes. Create a Footprint for a loved cook in your family, and begin to celebrate your family’s heritage together.

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Approaching the holidays, we’re running weekly installments of our Everlasting Footprint Family Treasures Cookbook Series, which creates an EF family cookbook from our staff members’ treasured and special family recipes. Check back every Saturday through the end of the year for inspirational home-cooked recipes that include our own family stories.

About Liz Grear

Liz Greer, MFA, teaches creative writing, tutors students, and dabbles in ballroom dancing, book binding, paper making, and playing hopscotch between Chicago and New Jersey. She dreams of running a writing workshop in a prison, because she believes words can change things. Maybe not all things. But enough things.

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