Spaghetti and meatballs, ragu, spaghetti sauce, Sunday gravy–whatever you call it, gluten free pasta with meatballs and sausage is a hearty, flavorful meal that will feed a crowd and satisfy everyone. There’s a secret ingredient in the sauce that’ll make you say “Hmmm…what is that?”
According to my husband, my meatballs are the best he’s ever had (second to his mother’s of course)! What’s crazy is that I was never really into making spaghetti and meatballs. Then I met Scott and found out that he loved red sauce. Since the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, I found a recipe online for meatballs years ago. I changed it up to suit my tastes, made them, and the rest is history. This is the meal I make for him when he’s coming home from a trip, for his birthday or another special occasion, or even just because! He likes the sauce on angel hair, but I like mine with a short pasta, and my favorite is Banza cavatappi. I love the shape of cavatappi and the way the sauce gets trapped in the corkscrew.
What makes these meatballs so wonderful is bulk Italian sausage. Instead of using a mixture of beef and regular pork or veal, I use a combination of ground beef and bulk Italian sausage. My local grocery store carries Johnsonville ground mild Italian sausage and we just loooooove Italian sausage any way it comes. I think it’s the fennel seed that really draws us to it. If you can’t find bulk Italian sausage, just remove the casings from link Italian sausage. As if that isn’t enough, we also put link hot Italian sausage in the sauce. You can never have enough Italian sausage and this IS a meat sauce, after all 🙂
HOW TO MAKE GLUTEN FREE MEATBALLS
My meatballs are pretty simple to make, but far from simple in flavor. When I cook them, I do something a little bit differently–I bake them. Standing at the stove frying up a whole bunch of meatballs was something I just wasn’t going to do. I wanted a shortcut. So I decided to put them on a baking sheet and bake them for 15-20 minutes.
Meatballs always need a binder and I use store-bought gluten free bread crumbs (4C is the brand I get from my local Walmart). You can choose to make your own if you’d like, but I find the store-bought ones to be good enough for this particular use. If you can’t find Italian style gluten free bread crumbs (which I never can seem to find), just add some Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper, maybe a little Parmigiano Reggiano.
MY SECRET INGREDIENT FOR THE BEST SAUCE
The secret ingredient for the richest, most flavorful sauce is…a beef marrow bone! Usually any grocery store will have them. Ask the butcher if you can’t find them. When the bone simmers slowly in the sauce for hours, the marrow softens and seeps into the sauce, creating a flavor like no other. No one will be able to put their finger on it, but it’s just so meaty and rich and yummy!!
I’m not a fan of onions or peppers at all, but you won’t miss them in this sauce. Of course, you’re free to add those or any other veggies you’d like.
For a warm, hearty meal that sticks to the ribs, look no further than this gluten free pasta with meatballs and sausage. I serve it up with a salad and a piece of fresh-baked gluten free artisan bread and my “famous” Kim’s Spread for Bread (recipe coming soon). This meal is perfect for feeding a crowd and can be made in advance, and even gets better with time.
What’s your go-to pasta meat sauce?
Gluten Free Pasta with Meatballs and Sausage
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2-3 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1/2 cup red wine (Cabernet Sauvignon)
- 2 15-ounce cans tomato sauce
- 1 6-ounce can tomato paste
- 1/4 cup dried oregano (sounds like a lot, but trust me)
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 1 tsp dried basil
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 beef marrow bone
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 pound ground Italian sausage
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 3/4 cup gluten free bread crumbs or gluten free Italian bread crumbs
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
- 1 clove garlic, minced or crushed
- 2 tsp Worcestershire
- 2 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp Italian seasoning
- 2 lbs pasta of choice
- 2 lbs mild or hot Italian sausage links
- extra Parmigiano Reggiano for sprinkling
For the sauce:
- Heat olive oil in large dutch oven over medium heat. Add garlic and beef marrow bone and saute briefly, Don't allow garlic to brown.
- Add red wine and deglaze the pan.
- Slowly add the cans of tomato sauce and paste and then fill both empty tomato sauce cans with water and add water to the sauce mixture.
- Add all other herbs and spices and bring to a boil. Reduce temperature and simmer for roughly 2-3 hours, partially covered with lid. Stir every 15-20 minutes.
For the meatballs and sausage:
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
- In large bowl, mix together all meatball ingredients. Hands are the best tools for this. Don't overmix.
- Roll into balls roughly the size of golf balls. Place meatballs on rimmed baking sheet, spaced apart for even browning.
- Bake for about 15-20 minutes, or until lightly golden brown and sizzling.
- While meatballs are baking, heat skillet over medium heat and add Italian sausage links. Saute for a few minutes per side until all links are nicely browned.
- Remove from skillet onto paper towels and let cool slightly. Cut in half, or in thirds and add to sauce. Also add meatballs to the sauce at this time.
- Continue to cook sauce for another hour or two, stirring every 15-20 minutes.
- Serve over pasta. Sprinkle with freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and fresh parsley.
- If you don't want to make meatballs, you can always just brown the ground beef and bulk Italian sausage with the garlic and olive oil, before adding the red wine. Proceed as directed. This makes an incredibly yummy meat sauce that can be served over pasta or made into baked ziti, lasagna, or any other dish calling for meat sauce. My mom never made meatballs when we were growing up. She did it this way and we all loved it! Her lasagna is legendary in our family (recipe coming soon).
- Leftover sauce can be frozen. Cool to room temperature and put sauce in gallon ziploc baggies. Lie them flat in the freezer. When reheating, cut sides of bag and add to large saucepan with about 1/2 cup of water. Heat on medium low until warmed through.