RECIPE: Classic Spaghetti and Meatballs with Sustainable Herbs


Use your own home-grown herbs.

These are my favorite oven-baked meatballs — tender and flavorful, along with my simple, go-to sauce. Herbs enhance both. With minimal time and effort — much less than what goes into a vegetable garden – you can enjoy fresh herbs anywhere from seven months on Martha’s Vineyard to the whole year, depending on your time zone. Read the full herb story here.

Meatball Ingredients

1 pound local ground beef (85 percent)

1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan reggiano

1/3 cup plain bread crumbs or panko

1/3 cup water

2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves

1 large egg yolk 

1 garlic clove, minced

1 tablespoon fresh chopped oregano, or 1 teaspoon dried oregano

¾ teaspoon kosher salt (1/2 teaspoon table salt)

Freshly ground black pepper

Tomato Sauce Ingredients

 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2-3 cloves  minced garlic

2 cans (28 ounces) whole tomatoes, drained, roughly blended in a food processor

Fresh basil leaves

Fresh parsley

1 tablespoon fresh chopped oregano, or 2 teaspoons dried oregano

large pinch of sugar

salt to taste

1 pound spaghetti

Freshly grated Parmesan cheese


  1. For the meatballs: combine all the ingredients into a bowl and mix lightly. Form meatballs. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place meatballs on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper.  Bake for approximately 12-14 minutes – try one to test doneness.
  2. For the sauce, add olive oil along with garlic to a medium saucepan and saute until garlic is golden, about 30 seconds. Add tomatoes, a branch of basil leaves, oregano and parsley, bringing to a boil, and simmer gently until sauce thickens, about 10 minutes. Stir in a bit more chopped basil or chopped parsley, add salt to taste. Add meatballs until heated through, but try not to “cook” any longer to preserve tenderness.
  3. Meanwhile, bring water to boil in large pot for cooking pasta. Add 1 tablespoon salt and cook pasta al dente. Drain. Top with meatballs and sauce. Serve immediately with grated parmesan cheese

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Catherine Walthers
Catherine Walthers
Catherine Walthers, Bluedot’s food editor, is a Martha’s Vineyard-based writer, culinary instructor, and private chef. A former journalist, she is the author of 4 cookbooks, including Kale, Glorious Kale, Soups + Sides, and Raising the Salad Bar. She wrote an environmental guidebook called A Greener Boston published by Chronicle Books in 1992. Follow her on Instagram @catherine_walthers.
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