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Spaghetti and Homemade Meatballs in a light and fresh Pomodoro Sauce – This Spaghetti Pomodoro is so easy to make and ready in under 30 minutes!
Italian recipes are a favorite and we sure do love our pasta. If you’re like us, you’ll love some of our other favorites like Penne Pasta Primavera and Tomato Basil Pasta.
Spaghetti Pomodoro Recipe
Pomodoro Sauce is probably my favorite sauce to make. I first had it years ago at Olive Garden, during my brief stint as a vegetarian in high school. It’s just about the simplest sauce you can make – with just tomatoes, garlic, onions and basil quickly simmered together. It’s ideal to use fresh tomatoes, but for this particular recipe I used canned. In my opinion they work just as well, and are much easier to keep on hand, but I’ll put both options in the recipe below.
At OG, they have a dish called Capellini Pomodoro, which is how I first tasted this sauce (Capellini is just Angel Hair pasta). The sauce is designed to be just enough to coat the pasta, making it super light and not as heavy as traditional spaghetti sauce.
Why we love this recipe
- It’s a fresh, homemade dinner that’s ready in under 30 minutes.
- It’s got all the flavor of traditional spaghetti sauce without the heaviness.
- The meatballs are quick and fun to make and super delicious.
Spaghetti Pomodoro with Easy Homemade Meatballs
If you have been following for a while, you might remember a while back I taught my son to make meatballs. We have been making them together ever since. I had never realized how easy they are! I usually make the pomodoro sauce while the meatballs are baking in the oven, then simmer the cooked meatballs in the poodoro sauce.
- All you need to make the meatballs is ground beef, an egg, grated Parmesan, grated onion and some seasoning. The higher the fat content of the meat, the juicier the meatball, but really the ratio is up to you.
- Mix up the ingredients with your hands and scoop onto a baking tray with a cookie scoop.
- Bake for 13-14 minutes – that’s it! You could serve everything at this point, but I like to let the meatballs simmer in the sauce for ten minutes or so.
Pomodoro sauce is a simple, Italian, tomato-based sauce made with diced tomatoes, garlic, olive oil and basil. Traditionally it’s made with fresh tomatoes and fresh basil but you can sub canned and dried to make it even simpler.
- Heat a large pot or pan over medium heat and add olive oil. Once the oil is melted you will add some diced onion and cook them until soft. Onions aren’t traditional in Spaghetti Pomodoro but I really like the flavor in my Italian sauces.
- Once the onions are cooked you’ll add diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, garlic, basil and a pinch of salt and pepper. I also add just a teaspoon of sugar to balance out the acidity of the tomatoes, but you can leave that out.
- Bring the sauce to a boil, then cover with the lid, turn the heat down to low and simmer. You only need about 15-20 minutes and you can add the meatballs to the pot once they come out of the oven.
- While the sauce is simmering, boil some water and cook your pasta. I use spaghetti, because it just makes sense with the meatballs, but you can use angel hair, fettuccine or even penne. The choice is yours!
- Toss fresh, hot pasta with the sauce and serve immediately.
Fresh grated Parmesan cheese and shreds of basil are popular choices for topping most Italian pasta dishes like this Spaghetti Pomodoro. I usually serve with a copycat Olive Garden Salad and garlic bread. But we also love it with a little of the Best Roasted Broccoli on the side.
What to do with leftovers
Pomodoro sauce freezes quite well, so if you have a lot leftover or want to make this sauce ahead of time, you can. Let the sauce cool and pour it into a freezer bag or airtight container. Freeze for up to 4 months. Thaw overnight in the freeze and reheat in a pot on the stove.
If you plan to eat within 3-4 days, you can store leftovers, covered, in the fridge.
For more easy pasta dinners, be sure to check these out:
- Roasted Garlic and Red Pepper Fettuccine Alfredo
- One Pan Spaghetti and Meatballs
- Spicy Lemon, Bacon and Asparagus Pasta
- One Pan Lemon Garlic Pasta
- Bruschetta Chicken Pasta
- Creamy Garlic Penne Pasta with Chicken
Spaghetti Pomodoro with Homemade 15 Minute Meatballs
For the Spaghetti Pomodoro:
- 1/2 lb Spaghetti
- 15 ounces diced tomatoes or 6 whole Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced small
- 8 ounces tomato sauce
- 1/2 cup onion diced
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 2 tablespoons fresh basil or 2 teaspoons dried
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar optional
- Salt and Pepper to taste
For the Meatballs:
- 3/4 pound ground beef higher fat content is better
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
- 1/4 cup grated onion
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1 tablespoon dried Parsley
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Combine meatball ingredients with your hands in a medium bowl. Divide into 1-2 inch balls (a cookie scoop works great). Place on a foil lined cookie sheet and bake for 13-14 minutes.
- Meanwhile, heat a large pot over medium heat. Add a tablespoon of olive oil and the onions and cook until translucent. Add tomatoes, tomato sauce, garlic, and basil and a pinch of salt and pepper. To balance the acidity, add the sugar, if desired. Bring to a gentle boil, cover and simmer over low heat for 15 minutes.
- When the meatballs are done, take them out of the oven and transfer them to the saute pan to simmer with the sauce while you cook the pasta.
- Bring a medium pot of water to boil and cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and toss with the sauce.
- Divide into bowls and serve hot. Top with grated Parmesan and chopped parsley, if desired.
Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.
I loved pomodoro at Olive Garden and tried to make it at home but it always fell short. With your tip about using canned tomato and dried basil this came out perfect. Now that I have this recipe, I will be making batches to freeze so I can have it whenever I want! Thank you so much for sharing.
You are so welcome Wendy! Awesome feedback, thanks for stopping by.
Didn’t make the meatballs but the sauce was spot on! Will definitely make again!
Nice! Thanks for stopping by Stacy.