Prep 15 mins
Cooking 20 mins
Serves 4

Spaghetti and meatballs swimming in a marinara sauce… Hmmm, it’s the kind of comfort food one really wants to turn to at the end of a long day. You could be forgiven for thinking that it’s Italian, but you’d be hard pressed to find beef meatballs on spaghetti in Italy. This dish is in fact as American as they come. Its roots are Italian to be sure, tracing back to Italian immigrants arriving in America about a century ago.

Beef was more readily available in the US than in Italy, spaghetti was about the only pasta for sale at the time and tinned tomatoes were the order of the day. So combine them they did. As with all brilliantly simple recipes, this one has stood the test of time. We honour the old-school way and use tinned tomatoes for our marinara sauce. Zero effort is what we want, so we pick the one that already has onions in it. As for the meatballs? No faffing about there either – we simply squeeze the filling out of beef sausages. This is seriously speedy stuff. Just what you want midweek.


  • 500g boerewors, beef bangers or any other beef sausage
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 2 x 400g tins of tomato and onion mix
  • 2 Tbsp Cape Herb & Spice Tastebud SPICY
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • third of a cup of cream
  • 1 packet spaghetti, cooked according to package instructions
  • basil leaves, for serving
  • grated parmesan, for serving


Firstly squeeze the meat out of the sausage casings and roll golf ball sized meatballs. Then heat up a large non-stick pan, add the olive oil and fry the meatballs until caramelized. Remove meatballs and set aside.  To the same pan add the garlic and fry for a minute or two. Add the tinned tomato/onion mix, Cape Herb and Spice Tastebud Spicy and sugar. Place the lid on, turn the heat to its lowest setting and simmer for 10 minutes. Use a stick blender to blitz the marinara sauce. Place back on the heat, stir in the cream, pop the meatballs on top, cover and allow it to simmer for a further 10 minutes.

erve on cooked spaghetti with basil leaves and loads of grated parmesan cheese.


Recipe concept & photography by Lizet Hartley.

Lizet Hartley is a freelance stills and reel food stylist, food photographer and recipe developer. In her spare time she – rather predictably – cooks. Get more of her recipes on her blog at