If SpaghettiOs aren’t nostalgic, then I don’t know what is. Lately I’ve been on a kick to re-create childhood classics. I miss the days of Hamburger Helper, fish sticks and pudding cups. So I am on a mission to re-imagine and elevate some of my favorites.

I have such vivid memories of coming home after school and being excited to have SpaghettiOs as an after-school snack. It wasn’t every day that we had them, so when we did, it felt like a big win! SpaghettiOs were one of my favorites, and the other day when I was craving them, I decided to give it a go and make it from scratch.

This recipe consists of mini spicy meatballs in a tomato broth that is so rich with flavor your taste buds will be dancing. I also found a special round pasta called Rotelle No. 54 — an elevated version of the pasta you find in canned SpaghettiOs. I discovered this at Metropolitan Market, but you can probably find it at any local grocery store.

The best part about this recipe is that it comes together in one pot. And of course, since we are re-imagining this childhood recipe, I had to add some greens to it. Kale saves the day to make sure we’re always getting our veggies. Honestly, if you make this for kids, I’m sure they won’t even notice.

SpaghettiOs and Meatballs

Time: 45 minutes

Makes: 6 servings

INGREDIENTS:

Meatballs:

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 pound hot Italian sausage
  • 1 shallot, grated (should come out to about ¼ of a cup)
  • 1 garlic clove, grated
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley, minced
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons pepper
  • ¼ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 tablespoon thyme
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons cooking oil 

Tomato soup:

  • 1 tablespoon thyme
  • 2 teaspoons oregano
  • 2 teaspoons basil
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 4 cups tomato passata, or strained tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 box of Rotelle No. 54 pasta, or pasta of your choice
  • 2 cups kale, shredded

STEPS:

For the meatballs:

  1. In a large bowl, add all the ingredients except the cooking oil and mix until thoroughly combined.
  2. Scoop and roll out meatballs in 1 tablespoon increments. Place on a plate or a platter until all meatballs are formed.
  3. Heat a large Dutch oven or pot over medium heat and add oil.
  4. Add meatballs to the pot and brown on all sides, about 2 minutes per side. Be careful not to crowd the pot; you will likely need to do it in batches.
  5. Once all meatballs are cooked, set aside.

For the tomato soup and assembly:

  1. Using the same pot, add thyme, oregano and basil to the pot. Bloom herbs until fragrant, about 1 to 2 minutes.
  2. Add chicken stock, tomato passata, garlic powder, sugar and salt. Bring to a boil.
  3. Once boiling, add meatballs back to the pot and the pasta.
  4. Reduce heat to low and cook until pasta is done, according to package instructions.
  5. Add kale and cook about 2 more minutes.
  6. Top with additional Parmesan cheese, if desired.
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