Easy Italian Recipes: Meatballs and Marinara Sauce

By: Maria Libera Vallone


The good thing about my Dad teaching me how to cook was that his prowess also touched my brother, Joe. In fact I would say he is a more innovative cook than I, whereas I like the simple way and getting there quickly.

My brother Joe
My brother Joe

His marinara sauce is “to die for” so I thought we’d get that simmering first and then tend to the meatballs. His recipe is based on 1 can of tomatoes, so obviously for a bigger sauce, you’d need to multiply it.


You’ll need: 

  • Extra virgin olive oil (approximately 6 tablespoons)
  • 5-6 cloves of fresh garlic (hand chopped)
  • 1 small stalk of fresh celery (chopped)
  • optional small fresh carrot (chopped)
  • optional dash of crushed red pepper
  • 1 can quality whole plum tomatoes (San Marzano type)

Don’t burn the oil!!!! Simmer the vegetables and garlic in the oil on medium heat until the mixture is fragrant. Add 1 can of San Marzano tomatoes. Once the mixture begins to boil, slice and crush the tomatoes with a fork and knife and then a potato masher. Turn down the heat and simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.Optional: add sliced Cremini mushrooms. Salt to taste. It’s that easy!!!!!


You’ll need: 

  • 1 lb of lean chopped sirloin (you canIMG_7284 double the recipe of course)
  • 1 egg (you may need 2)
  • 4 to 5 chopped fresh garlic cloves
  • chopped fresh Italian parsley (about 1 cup) chopped very thin
  • fresh breadcrumbs
  • shot of ketchup
  • salt and pepper
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large frying pan

Place the chopped sirloin in a large bowl. Use your fist to make a big “well” in the middle of it. (pretend you’re Rocky!) Into the well first place enough breadcrumbs to almost fill it up. Make sure that fist makes a big hole. Crack one egg and put it into the breadcrumbs. Add a tablespoon of chopped garlic to the mixture. Squeeze a good shot of ketchup into the well with the breadcrumbs and egg. Add salt and black pepper. (I use cracked pepper) Add the cup of parsley a little at a time. With a fork blend the entire mixture. If it feels very dry, add another egg but make sure mixture is firm.

Make sure your hands are clean!!!

Now that the mixture in the “well” is firm, with both hands knead everything together, adding more parsley so the entire ball is uniform with parsley throughout. When you feel that the breadcrumbs are not all stuck together, and that the mixture is uniform throughout the meat, it’s time to roll.
Depending on the size of your meatballs, roll them in a circular motion between your hands and place them in a frying pan covered with extra virgin olive oil, I like smaller ones about 1” in diameter. After searing them in the hot oil and locking in the juices, drop them in your sauce to continue cooking until firm.

IMG_7286Buon appetito!


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8 thoughts on “Easy Italian Recipes: Meatballs and Marinara Sauce

  1. DanaBurdick January 13, 2015 / 2:57 pm

    Maria, Meatballs and sauce was an italian favorite growing up in my house. Since my father was Sicilian Born, and raised in Sicily. I can Rember my grandfather always making fried meatballs on Sunday moring,It was an italian tradition. Well, the meatballs and sauce looks really deliciosas! I wIll have to give it a try!


  2. Maureen January 13, 2015 / 5:35 pm

    Wow, thanks for the marinara sauce recipe, Maria! So easy and I bet it is delicious! I can’t wait to try it!


  3. Michael Wish January 13, 2015 / 11:30 pm

    Love this recipe! Especially any time you can have extra virgin Olive Oil– well HELLO! BTW, what % do you consider lean sirloin?


  4. Maria Libera January 14, 2015 / 3:02 pm

    Chopped sirloin makes for a more tender meatball. 93% fat free. Many critics say to use a fattier
    ground beef for more flavor. I disagree as the fat rises to the top and makes greasier dish


  5. Anna Maria Santoro D'Angelico January 20, 2015 / 12:17 am

    hey Maria, love the info on this page. I am Anna (your cousin), lets talk sauce..I just made a fast marinara sauce. serves two. one 14.5 oz can of crushed tomatoes. olive oil, 2 cloves of garlic, sliced, about 1/2 teasp. each of garlic powder, basil salt and pepper. combine all these ingredients together in a sauce pan and simmer for about 45 min add 1/3 cup of wine. DONE serve over angel hair pasta. or fine linguini. I’m going to try Joe’s meat balls.
    LOVED you pictures too.


    • Maria Libera January 21, 2015 / 1:47 am

      Anna, they are MY meatballs not Joe’s. It’s Joe’s marinara sauce not mine. Yours sounds delicious too. Check out my blog on chicken alla parmigiana


  6. thasc1 January 20, 2015 / 6:31 pm

    I just made the sauce without the meatballs. I added a little diced chicken instead. It was fantastic.



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