- 2/3 cup broken (into 2- to 3-inch pieces) spaghetti or linguine
- 2 rounded tablespoons tomato paste
- 1/4 cup hot water
- 1/2 to 3/4 cup fresh breadcrumbs
- 1 1/4 pounds ground beef or a mix of ground beef, pork and veal
- 2 large cloves garlic, grated or finely chopped
- 3 to 4 tablespoons grated onion (to taste)
- A small handful fresh flat-leaf parsley tops, finely chopped
- A fat handful freshly grated Pecorino Romano or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- EVOO – Extra Virgin Olive Oil, for drizzling
- 1 1/2 to 2 cups warmed tomato sauce, store-bought or homemade, for dipping (optional)
In a saucepan, bring a quart of water to a rolling boil. Add the pasta, salt the water and cook al dente. Drain, run pasta under cold water to cold-shock and drain well. Set aside to cool.
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, combine the tomato paste and hot water; stir to loosen the paste. Add 1/2 cup of the breadcrumbs to moisten them. Add the cooled pasta, ground beef, garlic, onion, parsley, cheese, a drizzle of EVOO, salt and pepper; mix well to combine. Add another 1/4 cup breadcrumbs if the mixture seems too wet.
Roll the mixture into 1 1/2- to 2-inch balls. (It’s fine if the pieces of cooked spaghetti stick out of the meatballs – they’ll get crispy in the oven.) Arrange the balls on the prepared baking sheet and bake until cooked through, browned and crispy at the edges, 18-20 minutes. Serve with warm tomato sauce alongside for dipping, if desired.