Deconstructed Spaghetti and Meatballs

1 1/2 lb lean ground beef*
2 to 3 lb tomatoes**
1/3 cup bread crumbs
3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons chopped basil
1 small onion, grated
1 egg
1 cup fresh ripe tomatoes

3/4 lb cooked, hot spaghetti
extra chopped basil
olive oil

In a bowl, knead together the meat, onion, basil, egg, olive oil, cheese, the breadcrumbs, salt and pepper. Do not squeeze. When thoroughly combined, form in to 2 inch meatballs. Thread on (soaked) skewers alternating with tomatoes. Brush the tomatoes and meatballs with oil. Alternately, do not use skewers and place the the meat and tomatoes on a grill pan. Place on the grill and cook, turning so they cook evenly. Grill until the meatballs are cooked through, about 15-20 minutes. Toss together the spaghetti and basil. Top with the meatballs and tomatoes, mashing the tomatoes slightly before serving.

*Be careful that the meat doesn’t have too high of a fat content or there will be flare ups and broken meatballs. That’s why I call for lean ground beef and not a mixture of other meats or a higher fat ground.

**Choose tomatoes that are about the same size as your meatballs for best results. I used the moderately sized “Fourth of July” variety.

My thoughts:

my grill friday
It was a little tricky maneuvering the meatballs around on the grill but it was worth it. Roasted tomatoes are just so tasty and sweet they don’t need more than a slight mashing to make a delicious tomato sauce. And really, the novelty of making spaghetti and meatballs on the grill is high and the results tasty, so why not give it a try?


  1. I use a three meat grind like my grandmothers did. Beef, pork and veal. This makes by and large the tastiest meatballs. It also makes great sauce whether you use in it the actual sauce or you throw the meatballs in.

  2. Such a simple recipe! I have some parmesan that is waiting to be used. Must try this one.

  3. Mmmm….love grilled tomatoes – this meal kind of reminds me of the Persian grilled minced meat kebabs with the grilled tomatoes! Only you’ve got pasta instead of rice!

  4. Did you grill the spaghetti, too? 🙂

  5. Outstanding! Spaghetti and meatballs is one of my favorites. I’ve recently passed on the tomato sauce for a simpler, olive oil, butter, garlic, crushed red pepper and oregano toss over the spaghetti – your recipe is a great way for me to keep my olive oil ‘sauce’ while adding some tomato!

  6. ooh, such an adorable idea! your friday posts make me wish I had a grill…alas I live in an apartment

  7. Rachel, this looks so clever and delicious! You’re right about roasting tomatoes – it brings out the most incredible flavor.

  8. I had to check this one out. Simple and absolutely delicious.

  9. Linda@ Lime in the Coconut

    Ok, now this is just tooo perfect! I love the simplicity. I’m tryin’ it. Stat!

  10. Mark Boxshus "Cookie Doctor"

    Very interesting presentation. I’ll have to give it a try.


  11. This is a totally cute idea. I love it, so inventive and simple.

  12. I was scrolling through your site and saw the picture of the meatballs and tomatoes and skewers and without even reading the recipe I decided to try my own version. I came back and read the recipe and looking back I wished I had put some basil in the meatballs. I don’t normally, but I feel like spaghetti and meatballs needs that basil sweetness. Anyway, thanks for the inspiration!

  13. Very creative…I like it. I like it a lot.