Family Dinnner: Meatballs in Marinara Sauce

Far away from our families, we can’t have big family dinners here in Victoria, Texas, so I made one of my family’s favorites pared down for two people.

Since I just made a big batch of meatballs, a spaghetti dinner was in order, which, consequently, is one of my mom’s specialties. We’re not talking about the weeknight dinner that takes twenty minutes to prepare, but the slow simmering of sausages, meatballs and chunks of beef in marinara sauce in order to tenderize and flavor the meat and enrich the sauce.   I chose to nix the pasta to keep the blood sugar spike low and allow for a little bit of dessert later on.  Following the sage spaghetti making tradition with my big batch of rosemary meatballs, I immediately put  some in the freezer and some in a marinara sauce that was in my freezer which I had made a few weeks ago.


I got the recipe from this cookbook my mom gave me a few years ago for Christmas.  It’s from Claro’s, a neighborhood Italian grocery store in La Habra, California.

Meanwhile, I made this delicious cheesy “bread” adding in a little rosemary to compliment the meatballs.  It made some leftovers…yay!


And, a salad with olives, tomatoes, mixed baby greens and a creamy balsamic dressing.  We always have salad with an Italian dressing with spaghetti.  It’s tradition, but it also adds a nice color and texture contrast.


Putting it altogether, here’s what we had: family tradition for two!


And, here’s the recipes for the marina sauce and salad dressing.

Claro’s Marinara Sauce (ever so slightly adapted from the book)


¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

1 large onion, diced

3-5 cloves of fresh garlic, minced

2 28 oz. cans of chopped tomatoes

1 box strained tomatoes (use Pomi brand)

Sea salt and pepper to taste

¼ cup fresh basil


  1. Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in a large sauce pan, add onions and garlic and sauté until they are clear and slightly brown.
  2. Add all tomatoes and spices and stir.  Cook over medium-high heat until the sauce starts to simmer.  Reduce to a simmer and cook for at least 15 more minutes, until the sauce thickens slightly and turns a deeper red.

This should make enough sauce for two pounds of pasta.  I use about a third of it for 25 meatballs, or five servings of meatballs.

Creamy Balsamic Dressing

Serves 2 for a dinner salad


1 teaspoon mayonnaise

1 teaspoon sour cream

2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

Small sprinkle of Italian seasoning blend

Pinch of both sea salt and pepper

1-2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil


  1. Whisk together all ingredients except olive oil in a small bowl until combined.
  2. Drizzle in olive oil while whisking to create an emulsion.  Taste the dressing for seasoning and adjust if necessary.
  3.  Toss with salad (three cups baby greens, half cup of cherry tomatoes (halved) and 1/4 cup halved olives) just before serving.

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