Skip to content

Recipe Trial: Spaghetti & Meatballs with Garlic Crumbs

November 11, 2011
Spaghetti & meatballs

For this week’s Willing Cook-A-Long challenge, I chose to make Silvana Nardone’s Spaghetti & Meatballs with Garlic Crumbs. I’ve been eying this recipe for awhile, so I’m glad for the opportunity to make it.

The Changes

This recipe is already Joseph-safe, as it is in Nardone’s gluten-free & dairy-free cookbook so the only changes I made were slight changes to the methodology. Instead of grating the onion, I stuck it in the food processor. Instead of smashing and grating the garlic, I used my garlic press. I pureed the crushed tomatoes since nobody in my family likes tomato chunks, I forgot to add in all the parsley, and I reduced the red pepper by half because we’re wimps when it comes to spiciness.

gluten-free rice krispies, rice milk, crushed tomatoes, olive oil, crushed red pepper, ground beef, garlic, onion, parsley, rice spaghetti

The Method

Mix meatball ingredients (beef, onion, garlic, cereal crumbs, egg, milk, and salt) in a bowl. This will be easiest with your hands to get everything incorporated. My daughter brought her chair over to help, but she had no desire to stick her hands into it. The recipe says to form eight 2″ balls, but I found that too big, so I ended up with 32 1″ balls.

To make the sauce, first saute some garlic in olive oil. Now, I haven’t cooked with actual cloves of garlic ever since our second year of marriage when I bought some, stuck it in the fridge, and it sprouted on me. So I figured since we wouldn’t use it fast enough, it was safer to just stick with garlic powder. Now I know that if you buy garlic, don’t store it in the fridge because that will CAUSE it to sprout. Since this recipe uses so much garlic (hope you’re not inviting over any vampires!) I decided to buy the entire bulb. We’ll see if I use it up before it sprouts in the pantry.

Add the pureed tomatoes to the sauce and bring to a simmer. Warning: this sauce is so thick that instead of simmering with neat bubbles, it spurts like mini volcanos, hitting anything nearby with splatters of sauce.

Add the meatballs and submerge. Be gentle as you’re moving them around so you don’t break them up. Cover and let simmer for 20 minutes. I didn’t time it. I just let started the spaghetti noodles at this time, and let the sauce simmer until the noodles were done. Oh, and I didn’t like how this recipe didn’t mention salt until the directions. It meant I forgot to add the salt to the sauce until after I’d already added the meatballs.

Once I had the noodles going, I made the garlic crumbs. Heat some oil in a small frying pan, then add garlic, cereal crumbs, red pepper, and salt. Mix constantly as the crumbs toast, until they are golden.

To serve, put noodles on a plate, then top with sauce & meatballs, and then sprinkle with crumbs.

Spaghetti & meatballs

Spaghetti & Meatballs with Garlic Crumbs

Adapted from Cooking for Isaiah

Dairy-free, gluten-free, and soy-free

Meatball ingredients:

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1/2 onion, processed in food processor (or minced really finely)
  • 1 clove of garlic, chopped (or use the garlic press)
  • 1/2 cup Gluten-free Rice Krispies, ground into crumbs
  • 1/2 cup rice milk
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons dried parsley
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Sauce ingredients:

  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, smashed (or use the garlic press)
  • 2 28-ounce cans of crushed tomatoes, pureed
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Crumbs ingredients:

  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, grated (or use the garlic press)
  • 1/2 cup Gluten-free Rice Krispies, ground into crumbs
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

1 16 ounce package rice spaghetti

In a large bowl, combine meatball ingredients. Mix by hand until it is all incorporated. Shape into about 32 1″ balls.

In a large saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat, add smashed garlic and cook until golden (about 2 minutes). Add tomatoes and salt and bring to a simmer. Submerge meatballs and bring back to a simmer. Cover, and let simmer for about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook spaghetti according to package directions. Then make the garlic crumbs. Heat oil over medium heat, then add the rest of the ingredients for the crumbs. Cook and stir until toasted and golden (about 2 minutes). Let cool.

To serve, divide spaghetti onto plates, then top with sauce and sprinkle with crumbs.

Serves four to six.

What I thought

The meatballs were nice and flavorful, but I would have preferred to bake them in the oven or fried them in a pan to make them more crispy. The sauce was so-so – not enough to make it worth the extra dishes and time over canned spaghetti sauce. I like having crumbs to sprinkle over Joseph’s spaghetti while the rest of us have parmesan, but they were still pretty spicy even cutting down on the red pepper.

My husband enjoyed the meal. My daughter ignored the meatball, which was expected, but she ate only half her noodles, which was unexpected. Usually she eats a few helpings of spaghetti noodles. I believe she didn’t like the spiciness of the crumbs. Joseph didn’t care about the spiciness though. He ate three meatballs and lots of noodles.

So, I’d keep the meatballs, and modify the crumbs, but the rest of it won’t be done again.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. November 11, 2011 8:13 am

    I love the idea of garlic crumbs. I will have to adopt that the next time.

    Thanks for joining in the Willing Cook-A-Long this week. I look forward to making pumpkin cookies with you next week.

  2. Megan permalink
    November 18, 2011 10:59 am

    I am going to make this and let you know! Your awesome! Keep blogging!

    • November 18, 2011 11:39 am

      Thanks for the kind words Megan. i look forward to hearing your report!


  1. Meatballs: Gluten-free, Dairy-free, Nut-free « The Rice of Life

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: