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30-Minute Spaghetti and Meatballs

30-Minute Spaghetti and Meatballs 4.000

Stacy Zarin Goldberg for The Washington Post

Dinner in Minutes Eat Voraciously Newsletter Mar 6, 2018

As the name suggests, this is no substitute for the kind of meatballs simmered for hours in your nonna’s Sunday gravy. Strangely enough, the recipe doesn’t even include oregano or basil or a dry Chianti. And yet, this is a meal you’ll be happy to produce on a weeknight or any time you are craving tomato-y comfort food.

The meatball mixture is basic but does the trick: ground turkey, parsley, garlic and panko, plus salt and pepper. The meatballs brown in a skillet and finish cooking in the sauce, which is even simpler — canned tomatoes, pureed in a blender. When you drain the pasta, save a little of its cooking water; it contains some starch that will help bind the sauce and spaghetti together. Add the cooked pasta and a splash of water to that pot of sauce and meatballs, then let it cook for just a minute or so. It makes a difference.

Serve with a green salad.

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When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 4 servings

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
  • 8 ounces dried spaghetti
  • 1 pound ground turkey, preferably dark meat
  • 1/3 cup panko (bread crumbs)
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely grated or minced
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh parsley leaves
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, or more as needed
  • One 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes, plus their juices
  • Generous 1/3 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (about 2 ounces), finely grated, for serving


Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add a generous pinch or two of salt. Add the pasta to the boiling water; reduce the heat to medium-high and cook according to the package directions, or until al dente.

While the pasta cooks, combine the turkey, panko, egg, garlic, parsley, 1 teaspoon salt and the pepper in a mixing bowl. Use clean hands to gently mix, until thoroughly incorporated.

Form the meatballs; Do this in two steps, which won’t add extra time to the clock, but eliminates the guesswork involved in making them all the same size: First, divide the meatball mixture into 16 equal portions, placing them on a piece of parchment paper or on a cutting board. Then, wet your hands and roll them into balls.

Drain the pasta, reserving at least 2 tablespoons of the pasta cooking water. Leave the empty pot on the stove.

In a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the meatballs and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, turning as needed to brown evenly. (They won’t be cooked through.)

Pour the tomatoes and their juices into a blender. Cover and puree until smooth, then transfer the sauce and the meatballs to the pot used for the spaghetti (which should at this point be cooked and drained, in the colander). Once the mixture starts to bubble, reduce the heat to medium-low, partially cover and cook for 10 to 12 minutes, which will finish cooking the meatballs.

Add the pasta to the pot, tossing gently to incorporate; add the pasta cooking water and let the whole thing cook for another minute or two; this will help thicken the sauce.

Divide among bowls; drizzle with a little more oil, if desired, and scatter the cheese on each portion. Serve warm.

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Recipe Source

Adapted from “Martha Stewart’s Newlywed Kitchen: Recipes for Weeknight Dinners and Easy, Casual Gatherings,” by the editors of Martha Stewart Living (Clarkson Potter, 2017).

Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick.

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Nutritional Facts

Calories per serving: 530

% Daily Values*

Total Fat: 20g 31%

Saturated Fat: 5g 25%

Cholesterol: 135mg 45%

Sodium: 170mg 7%

Total Carbohydrates: 52g 17%

Dietary Fiber: 3g 12%

Sugar: 5g

Protein: 30g

*Percent Daily Value based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Total Fat: Less than 65g

Saturated Fat: Less than 20g

Cholesterol: Less than 300mg

Sodium: Less than 2,400mg

Total Carbohydrates: 300g

Dietary Fiber: 25g

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