BrokeAss Gourmet

BrokeAss Gourmet

Basil Meatballs in Buttery Tomato Sauce

  • Prep Time 20 minutes
  • Cook Time 1 hour
  • Estimated Cost $9.50

As if you need reminding, today is the ten-year anniversary of 9/11.

I don’t know about you, but I sure can use some comfort food. The sauce in this recipe is based on Marcella Hazan’s (as interpreted by Smitten Kitchen). The meatballs are a Gabi original.

You could add grated Parmesan cheese if you wanted, but the sauce and meatballs are so rich, I doubt you will.


  • 1 28-oz. can whole, peeled Roma tomatoes $2
  • 5 tbsp unsalted butter $1 for a stick
  • 1 onion, peeled and halved $0.50
  • salt Pantry
  • 1 lb ground beef (80/20 is fine) $3.50
  • 1 egg 12 for $1.50
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped Pantry
  • 1 small handful basil leaves, sliced thinly, plus more for garnish $1 for a bunch
  • large pinch of freshly-ground black pepper Pantry

Recipe Serves Serves 2-3.


  1. Combine tomatoes, butter and onion in a medium pot over medium-high. Bring to a light boil, then turn heat down to medium-low so the sauce is simmering. 
  2. Let cook, uncovered, for 40-45 minutes, until you see droplets of butterfat rise to the surface. Remove from heat.
  3. Use tongs to fish the onion out of the sauce and set it aside. 
  4. Season sauce with salt to taste.
  5. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  6. Let the onion cool, then chop it very finely (or use a food processor for this). Place in a mixing bowl.
  7. To the onion, add a generous pinch of salt, the beef, the egg, the garlic, the basil leaves and the pepper. 
  8. Use hands to mix well. 
  9. Form into golf ball-sized balls and place on an ungreased baking sheet. 
  10. Bake for 16-20 minutes, until meatballs are cooked through, but juicy. Leave the oven on.
  11. Spoon the sauce into a medium baking dish or oven-proof bowl. 
  12. Nestle the meatballs into the sauce, pop in the oven for just a few minutes to heat well, then serve immediately. You may also divide the sauce and meatballs between ramekins or smaller oven-proof bowls for individual servings. 
  13. Top with more basil and serve.

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What They're Saying

Get A Loan US, on Sep 11, 05:00 PM, wrote:

Thanks Gabi for this great post. I just clicked on your site from a frugality forum I belong to and lo and behold, I see my fav dish of all time: Meatballs. The image is mouth watering and this is a definite recipe I am going to try…and the price is definitely right…:) Thanks again and all the best.


Emily, on Sep 14, 10:04 AM, wrote:

These were amazing!!!

Licensed Insolvency Trustee Medicine Hat, on Jul 9, 01:59 PM, wrote:

Posts are all wonderful. Thank you for putting a lot of work into it.

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