Mama Capra's marinara sauce with meatballs and gluten-free capellini

I had to share this with you, as this is the best recipe I have made in 2020. And I have cooked a lot of pretty incredible food. This recipe comes courtesy of Liz Dolan of The Satellite Sisters podcast, who started a Cooking with Liz series on Facebook Live. Her long-time friend Marc Capra shared his mother’s incredible sauce. My only change was to lower or eliminate the salt, ease up on the red pepper, and simmer meatballs in the sauce when I’m feeling extra hungry. Thank you Marc and Liz and Mama Capra. This hits every garlicky urge I ever get for Italian food.

If you need a fun podcast to add to your feed, the Sisters are so funny and upbeat.

Mama Capra's marinara sauce with meatballs and gluten-free capellini

Mama Capra's marinara sauce with meatballs and capellini

The most incredible marinara sauce. Adjust the garlic and red pepper to your taste.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 1 hr 30 mins
Total Time 1 hr 40 mins
Course Dinner
Cuisine Italian
Servings 7 servings

Ingredients
  

Mama Capra's marinara sauce

  • 1/3 cup olive oil (extra virgin)
  • 10 cloves garlic minced (add less if you don't want it super garlicky)
  • 56 ounces tomatoes Italian plum, no salt added
  • 1/2 cup vodka or dry Marsala wine
  • 1 bunch basil leaves (fresh) chopped
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar (organic)
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt omit for lowest-sodium version
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes add more if you want it spicy

Meatballs

  • 2 pieces bread (gluten-free) toasted
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 pound beef (grass-fed, ground) grass-fed, or ground turkey if you prefer
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning salt-free, OR 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder Penzey's roasted garlic powder if you have it
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt omit for lowest-sodium version
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Instructions
 

Mama Capra's marinara sauce

  • Heat large pot over medium-high heat. Add olive oil. As soon as it's shimmering, add garlic and stir for 30-60 seconds.
  • Immediately add tomatoes and remaining sauce ingredients (vodka through red pepper flakes). Stir well. Bring just to a boil, then turn down to a simmer and partially cover. Cook for 60 minutes.
  • While the sauce is cooking, assemble the meatballs (below).
  • After 60 minutes, use a potato masher (or immersion blender) to break up the tomatoes.
  • Add the meatballs to the simmering sauce (I use an ice cream scooper to drop them directly in). Simmer 30 more minutes.
  • Bring a large pot of water to boil and cook the pasta according to package directions, timing it so it will be done the same time as the sauce.
  • Drain the pasta and rinse briefly with cold water. Drizzle with a little olive oil, shaking the colander to drain the water and stirring to coat the strands.
  • Serve pasta in bowls topped with sauce and meatballs, adding grated Parmesan or Romano cheese if you like.

Meatballs

  • Break up toasted bread and whiz in food processor to make bread crumbs. Place in a large bowl. Add garlic to food processor, finely mince, then add to bowl.
  • Add meat, eggs, and spices to bowl and mix together with your hands until evenly mixed.
  • Form meatballs by hand or using an ice cream scooper, then drop into simmering sauce as indicated above.