This recipe is one I have loved my ENTIRE life (even when I was SUPER picky). While it has changed over the years to accommodate my health needs and beliefs it still reminds me of home and hits the spot any day of the week!
Growing up my mom would make a pot of her “gravy” every Sunday and the house would smell GLORIOUS! No I am not talking about brown turkey gravy, I am talking about homemade tomato sauce for spaghetti and meatballs gravy. I never understood how people got the two confused…but let me first admit 3 things I thought to be true up until I was about 18:
1. Pasta was a food group
2. Chicken with Gravy & Cheese was just that….I had never heard of “Chicken Parm”
3. Ravioli with gravy was an acceptable trade off for turkey and gravy on Thanksgiving
Anyway back to the grav(y) details! There are a group of Italian Americans who call their tomato sauce “gravy” and my family was a part of that group, hence why I still call it gravy and probably always will! It is a tomato based sauce that has seasoning, peppers, onions and tomato paste. It is a labor of love and sits on the stovetop all day long…making anyones house smell like Strega Nona’s back yard!
(Shout Out to Strega Nona!)
I went away to college (at 18) and was quickly enlightened that my “gravy” was unique and that NO dining hall, not even the highly rated ones at Cornell (which had great food) could produce. I was spoiled rotten by my mother (“Mama A” as many of my friends call her 🙂 ) and her amazing italian cooking skills. That same year I also was exposed to “Chicken Parm” AND tried my first Thanksgiving brown gravy dinner…I suppose it was time to get out of my comfort zone. Every chance I had when I went home though I begged Mama A for her infamous gravy….and as much as I love my own adaptation nothing comes close to mama’s cooking 🙂
So without further ado here is my gluten-free version of Mama A’s Gravy and Meatballs….and as we would say in our household:
God Bless The Cook!!!Print
“Gravy” & Meatballs with Spaghetti (Squash)
- 1 lb. grass fed ground beef
- 1 lb. pastured ground pork
- 2 pastured eggs
- 1 tsp. Garlic Powder
- 1 tsp. Oregano
- 1 tsp. Parsley
- 1 tsp. Basil
- 1/2 tsp. Salt
- 1/2 tsp. Black Pepper
- 1–2 tsp. ghee (olive oil or coconut oil work as well)
“Gravy” Tomato Sauce
- 2–28oz cans whole peeled tomatoes
- 1– 6oz.can tomato paste
- 4–5 cloves of garlic, diced
- 1 sweet onion, chopped
- 1 green bell pepper, chopped
- 2 tbsp. ghee (or olive oil)
- 1 tbsp. Oregano
- 1–2 tsp. Garlic Powder
- 1 tsp. Parsley
- 1 tsp. Basil
- Salt & Black Pepper to taste
- 1 large spaghetti squash
- 1 tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil (ghee or coconut oil work as well)
- Salt/Pepper to taste
For the Meatballs
- Set oven to Broil (High)
- Use ghee or other oil to grease broiler pan.
- Mix all ingredients for meatballs together with hands until well combined.
- Roll meat mixture into 1 inch meatballs and place on broiler pan.
- Broil on high for 10 minutes
- Place meatballs into finished sauce recipe
For the “Gravy” Tomato Sauce
- Heat ghee or oil in large stock pot on medium-high heat.
- Add garlic and sauté for 2-3 minutes.
- Add onion and pepper and sauté for an additional 4-5 minutes until onion becomes translucent
- Add tomatoes, tomato paste and spices, stir to combine.
- Bring mixture to a boil, then lower heat to medium or medium-low to simmer.
- Using an immersion blender, blend tomato mixture until it is a smooth consistency and no chunks remain. (**If you do not have an immersion blender you will want to puree the tomatoes in a blender before adding them to the stock pot**)
- Once meatballs are added, simmer on medium-low for at least 10 minutes but best results are when sauce is allowed to simmer for a few hours
- Note: If sauce becomes too thick after simmering, add water 1/2 cup at a time to thin out the sauce.
For the Spaghetti (Squash):
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
- Slice spaghetti squash in half lengthwise.
- Scoop out seeds on both sides
- Optional: drizzle extra virgin olive oil on top and sprinkle with salt and pepper on each side
- Place face down on foil lined baking sheet and place in oven for 40-50 min. until spaghetti strands pull away from the skin.
How many servings does this make?
6-8 depending on how hungry everyone is 🙂 makes for great leftovers and can be frozen!
Strega Nona is one of my all time favorite books!! 🙂
I smiled so many times while reading this, thinking of my own Italian family 🙂 Nothing compares to the tastes of homemade ravioli, chicken cutlets, sneaking meatballs hot off the stove (before they get plopped into the huge pot of gravy), etc…or the horrible sickness that ensues after eating such deathly gluten bombs. I’ll definitely have to try your variations! Loved this post.
yum, I always snuck the meatballs 🙂 Let me know what you try!