Photo: Iain Bagwell; Styling: Missie Neville Crawford
Hands-on Time
38 Mins
Total Time
48 Mins
Serves 4 (serving size: 3/4 cup pasta, 3 meatballs, about 3/4 cup sauce, and about 1 1/2 tablespoons cheese)

You can't go wrong with this classic family favorite. We amp up jarred marinara with charred onion, garlic, and plum tomatoes.

How to Make It

Step 1

Preheat broiler to high.

Step 2

Combine onion, oil, 3 garlic cloves, and tomatoes in a bowl; toss to coat vegetables. Arrange tomato mixture on a foil-lined baking sheet. Broil 10 minutes or until vegetables char slightly, stirring after 5 minutes. Spoon tomato mixture into the bowl of a food processor; pulse 6 times or until mixture is coarsely chopped. Combine tomato mixture, marinara, and 3/8 teaspoon salt in a medium saucepan; bring to a simmer.

Step 3

Mince remaining 3 garlic cloves. Combine minced garlic, remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt, panko, red pepper, beef, and egg in a large bowl; mix gently just until combined. Working quickly with damp hands, gently shape beef mixture into 12 meatballs (do not pack). Arrange meatballs in a single layer on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Broil 6 inches from heat for 6 minutes, turning meatballs once. Remove pan from oven. Add meatballs to tomato mixture; simmer 4 minutes or until meatballs are done.

Step 4

Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Serve meatballs and sauce over pasta; sprinkle with cheese.

Chef's Notes

MyRecipes is working with Let's Move!, the Partnership for a Healthier America, and USDA's MyPlate to give anyone looking for healthier options access to a trove of recipes that will help them create healthy, tasty plates. For more information about creating a healthy plate, visit

Ratings & Reviews

daneanp's Review

February 19, 2014
DD requested spaghetti tonight but did not want the meatballs so I just made the delicious sauce. Will make with the meatballs next time. Can't wait for garden grown tomatoes to use in this recipe.

Dorseyl's Review

October 29, 2013
I thought this meal was great! Unlike a few other reviewers, I thought the meatballs were plenty flavorful and I even read the recipe wrong and used all the garlic in the sauce so the only seasoning in there was salt. Also, this was the quickest meatball cooking method I've ever used. I doubled the recipe and have tons of leftovers that I'm so excited to eat. We will definitely keep this recipe in "the vault" from now on!

AngelaH1964's Review

October 06, 2013
OMG! The BEST spaghetti and meatballs I've ever had, much less made. Hubby made whole wheat pasta and I added smoked salt to the broiled veggies and kale to the sauce for extra fiber (needed to use it up!). But, wow, it was delicious!

JulieUpton's Review

September 20, 2013
Oh my goodness! This recipe was delicious! This was the first time that I've ever roasted tomatoes, onions and garlic and added it to the sauce. It took a lot of time, but it was so good. The house smelled like an Italian restaurant. I did add more spices to both the sauce and meatballs, I added more salt and lots of Italian seasoning. We loved this recipe. I can't wait to make this again. Yum, yum, yum!

curleigh's Review

September 15, 2013

curleighj's Review

September 15, 2013

erikisst's Review

August 21, 2013
This was good but not the best recipe I've ever made from Cooking Light. The sauce was really tasty. I didn't quite get the char on the veggies that I would have liked but it didn't hinder the flavor. It was the meatballs that I just can't write home about. They were moist but just didn't have a lot of flavor. My BF agreed that next time I should add basil/oregano/etc to infuse more flavor. They were a bit bland. It was good and with some tweaks it can be great.

lynn770's Review

August 20, 2013
I made a variation of this recipe last night for dinner. I was in a hurry so I didn't add the extra broiled veggies to my pasta sauce. I used Paul Newman's Organic Marinara sauce and I just sprinkled some extra dried oregano & onion powder in it along with a teaspoon of minced garlic. I used 96% lean ground beef and I did have a problem with the meatballs sticking to the cookie sheet when I flipped them at 3 minutes, so make sure to put plenty of cooking spray on it. My husband loved the flavor of the meatballs. I will be using this recipe again. Maybe I'll try the broiled veggies next time with some onion and green peppers (noone likes tomatoes in my house). :)