The Washington Post

DePino's DePasquale Red Sauce and Meatballs

DePino's DePasquale Red Sauce and Meatballs 10.000

Jennifer Chase for The Washington Post; food styling by Bonnie S. Benwick/The Washington Post

Jun 29, 2018

This recipe approximates the flavor and aromas of the sauce made on Sundays by the author's Italian-American great-grandmother, Carmella DePasquale.

The author serves this sauce with angel hair or conchiglie (shell-shaped) pasta.

To read the accompanying story, see: My grandmother’s Sunday dinners were magical. Could I re-create them for my own family?.

Make Ahead: The sauce and meatballs can be frozen for up to 3 months. Defrost overnight in the refrigerator.

10 - 12

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: 10-12 servings

  • For the sauce
  • 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, run through a garlic press
  • 6 ounces canned tomato paste
  • 3/4 cup water
  • Two 28-ounce cans crushed tomatoes
  • One 28-ounce can peeled tomatoes, plus their juices
  • 5 fresh Roma (plum) tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated pecorino Romano cheese
  • Small handful fresh basil leaves (about 5), cut into thin ribbons
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Freshly ground white pepper
  • For the meatballs
  • 2 to 3 thick slices fresh Italian bread
  • Milk
  • 1 pound ground sirloin
  • 3 cloves garlic, run through a garlic press
  • 3 tablespoons freshly grated pecorino Romano cheese
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large egg
  • Extra-virgin olive oil

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For the sauce: Heat the oil and garlic in a 4-quart pot over medium heat, stirring to make sure the garlic does not burn.

Stir in the tomato paste; cook for a few minutes (the paste will darken and become fragrant), then add the water and stir until well blended. Add both cans of crushed tomatoes, then crush each canned peeled tomato over the pot, letting them fall in as you work. (Note: Wear an apron; this can be messy.) Stir in the remaining juices from the cans of peeled tomatoes.

Cut the fresh Roma tomatoes into chunks, transferring them to a food processor as you work. Pulse just until evenly chunky, then carefully add to the pot. Add the sugar, cheese and basil, a good pinch each of salt and black pepper and a small pinch of white pepper. Give the mixture a stir, partially cover, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for at least 2 hours, stirring regularly to avoid any scorching. The yield is about 12 cups.

While the sauce is cooking, make the meatballs: Tear the bread into pieces and place in a mixing bowl. Add just enough milk just to moisten them, draining any excess.

Add the ground sirloin, garlic, cheese, a good pinch each of salt and pepper and the egg; use your clean hands to mix them all together until well incorporated. Form 12 to 16 meatballs, placing them on a cutting board as you work.

Line a plate with paper towels. Heat enough oil to coat the bottom of a medium cast-iron or nonstick skillet, over medium heat. Once the oil shimmers, add half the meatballs and cook for 6 to 8 minutes, turning so they are browned on all sides. They will not be cooked through.

Transfer them to the lined plate to drain briefly, then add the meatballs to the pot of sauce. Repeat with the remaining meatballs.

Once they are all in the pot, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 2 hours, and up to 8 hours, gently stirring every now and then, until the sauce has thickened and becomes rich-looking. The meatballs should be tender and somewhat smaller.

Serve warm, with pasta.

Recipe Source

Based on a DePasquale family recipe; adapted by Lauren DePino, a writer based in Los Angeles.

Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick.

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Nutritional Facts

Ingredients are too variable for a meaningful analysis.

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