Old-Fashioned Spaghetti & Meatballs

Old-Fashioned Spaghetti & Meatballs

11 Reviews
From: EatingWell Magazine Fall 2004

To stretch the ground beef, we use high-fiber bulgur and whole-wheat breadcrumbs in the meatballs, which are baked rather than fried.

Ingredients 6 servings

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Original recipe yields 6 servings
Nutrition per serving may change if servings are adjusted.
  • Meatballs
  • 1/3 cup bulgur
  • 1/2 cup hot water
  • 4 ounces lean ground beef
  • 4 ounces hot Italian sausage
  • 1 medium onion, very finely chopped
  • 2 large egg whites, lightly beaten
  • 3 cloves garlic, very finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs, preferably whole-wheat (see Tip)
  • Sauce & Spaghetti
  • 4 cups prepared marinara sauce
  • 1/2 cup slivered fresh basil leaves, or chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 pound whole-wheat spaghetti, or linguine
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan, or Romano cheese (1 ounce)


  • Active

  • Ready In

  1. To prepare meatballs: Combine bulgur and water in a small bowl. Let stand until the bulgur is tender and the liquid is absorbed, about 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 °F. Coat a rack with cooking spray and place it over a baking sheet lined with foil.
  3. Combine ground beef, sausage, onion, egg whites, garlic, oregano, salt, pepper, breadcrumbs and the soaked bulgur in a large bowl; mix well. Form the mixture into 1-inch meatballs (about 24). Place the meatballs on the rack and bake for 25 minutes. Blot well with paper towel.
  4. To prepare sauce & spaghetti: Put a large pot of lightly salted water on to boil. Bring sauce to a simmer in a Dutch oven. Add the meatballs to the sauce and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes. Stir in basil (or parsley).
  5. Meanwhile, cook spaghetti (or linguine) until just tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain and transfer to a serving bowl. Top with the sauce and meatballs and serve with grated cheese.
  • Tip: To make fresh breadcrumbs: Trim crusts from firm sandwich bread. Tear the bread into pieces and process in a food processor until coarse crumbs form. One slice makes about 1/3 cup.

Nutrition information

  • Serving size: 3 meatballs; 2 2/3 cups pasta & 2/3 cup sauce
  • Per serving: 486 calories; 9 g fat(3 g sat); 14 g fiber; 82 g carbohydrates; 26 g protein; 57 mcg folate; 28 mg cholesterol; 10 g sugars; 0 g added sugars; 793 IU vitamin A; 28 mg vitamin C; 158 mg calcium; 5 mg iron; 532 mg sodium; 663 mg potassium
  • Carbohydrate Servings: 5
  • Exchanges: 5 starch, 3 vegetable, 1 1/2 medium-fat meat

Reviews 11

June 07, 2016
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By: EatingWell User
Looks good but serving size isn't realistic It says 8 oz. of meat and a pound of pasta for 6 people...the pasta serving is about right but the meat seems like too small of a portion
October 04, 2015
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By: Cindy H.
Wonderful meal for a fall weekend! This recipe can be changed around a lot. I doubled the meat as 8 oz of meat did not sound right. I'll use garlic powder next time in place of the cloves and cut the parsley in half as our son does not like. I could sprinkle it on top of my serving. Pros: Very healthy ingredients and basically a one-dish stand alone entree. Cons: Did take me quite a while to prepare. Our son prefers garlic powder & no parsley.
January 06, 2013
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By: obxmom
WHOA on the onion! Well, I cannot agree with the rave reviews and I can't believe this is a kid friendly meal with all the onion! I guess with all the bulgur wheat you have to add the onion (not to mention fatty sausage). It is unfortunate that I was optimistic and made a double recipe so my family will see these again from the freezer. This was a nine thumbs down in my house of ten thumbs. Pros: friendly recipe to follow
November 27, 2012
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By: EatingWell User
Healthy method of making meat balls I wanted to make traditional spaghetti and meatballs but with a healthier twist, so this was the perfect solution! I don't like to use ground beef. I would appreciate tips on making healthier choices for ground meat in general.... Bought organic at the supermarket. But perhaps next time I'll go to a butcher and get good quality meat ground up... I wonder about the sausages too.... anyway, baking the meatballs worked really well! I felt good about all the fat dripping down into the pan rather than sitting in my stomach! Next time I may add less bulgar wheat and try to find actual spicy sausages... My supermarket didn't have any so I bought the closest thing and added my own paprika and cayenne. Needed a little bit more kick. But great recipe. Will use it again! I paired it with the Cast Iron Skillet corn bread recipe on this site and a Marinara Sauce of Ina Garten on the foodnetwork.com. Was a hit! Pros: Reduced fat, Nice taste, baked instead of fried. Cons: uses ground beef
May 18, 2012
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By: EatingWell User
Family Favorite My 8 year old son requested these meatballs for his birthday meal. What more do you have to say!
October 18, 2011
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By: andrea
Good but... maybe too much fiber My review is really for the meatballs since I used bottled sauce. The meatballs were tasty and cooked up just fine. The only problem is, with all the extra fiber courtesy of the bulgur (along with whole wheat pasta), a small lunch of this dish gives both me and my husband a solid dose of indigestion. It expands quite a bit once I eat it. Just a word of caution. Pros: Healthy, tasty Cons: Gives us indigestion
October 04, 2011
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By: malinda.hasen
Simple and Delicious! I used this recipe the first time I made meatballs. It was very simple and the meatballs were excellent. I substituted wheat germ for the breadcrumbs. The wheat germ gave the meatballs a great nutty flavor. Everyone loved them!!
October 17, 2010
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By: EatingWell User
I love this recipe. I used cannelli instead of spaghetti, but that was the only change I made. The taste of the meatballs was amazing. I could eat this all day long.
May 14, 2010
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By: EatingWell User
These are great! I used ground turkey and turkey Italian sausage instead. I have made them a few times and they are great every time. I would disagree with the person who said there was too much onion and garlic, I think it is the perfect amount. Onion makes any kind of ground beef item (meatballs, burgers, meatloaf, etc.) very moist. A good way to do it is instead of chopping the onion you can grate it with a fine grater--faster and makes it super moist--you can also grate the garlic this way as well. I made the meatballs to put in the crockpot with BBQ sauce this time--I'm sure it will be great!