Remastering a Classic with Love

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Spaghetti and Meatballs by Kathleen Benavides
Story and Photos by Pablo Cruz Jr.

Many people enjoy Italian food for the taste and the love that goes behind every dish, this is the same love Kathleen Benavides puts into her spaghetti and meatballs.

Spaghetti and meatballs, with its perfect combination of harmonious flavors from simple ingredients, is a favorite for Kathleen, a Computer Information Systems graduate and St. Mary’s University Alumna.

Benavides graduated in May of 2013 and enjoyed her years at St. Mary’s, calling it, “home away from home.” Her major allowed her to learn plenty in the field of technology but cooking has always been a part of her life, even in college. While Kathleen doesn’t consider herself a top-tier chef, her dishes have earned the approval of second servings from friends and family.

Her Mexican heritage influenced her choices of favorite dishes like late night tacos, good morning migas, and family dinner enchiladas. However, she found a love for one Italian dish. “Growing up I would always see spaghetti and meatballs in my favorite cartoons as the main dish served for dinner. I always had the desire to learn how to make it. So I did my research and accepted the challenge,” she recalls.  When preparing this dish, Benavides advises, “ Truth be told, anyone can make it, you just need a little love. That’s the secret.”, she concludes.


Fresh Tomato Sauce

  • 10 to 12 fresh plum tomatoes (approximately 2 to 2 1/2 pounds)
  • 4 ounces extra-virgin olive oil, plus additional extra-virgin olive oil, optional
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped or blended.
  • Pinch crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 medium onion, finely chopped or blended.
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly chopped parsley leaves


  • 2 tablespoons, plus 1 cup pure olive oil or vegetable oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 lb ground chuck
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup dried breadcrumbs.

Barilla Spaghetti Noodles (Store Bought)


Tomato Sauce Directions

Cut the bottom of each tomato in a cross form with a sharp knife (do not cut too deep). Then, place tomatoes onto a baking pan and roast for about 2 hours. Remove tomatoes and let them cool. Then peel and blend tomatoes.Heat olive oil in a saucepan. When hot, add garlic and crushed red pepper. Saute until garlic turns slightly golden. Add chopped onion and saute an additional 2 1/2 minutes.Add 2 cups of water to pan. Add tomatoes and cook approximately 5 minutes. Add salt to taste. Add chopped parsley and extra virgin olive oil if desired.

Meatballs Directions

Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a small saute pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until soft, about 1½ minutes. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.Whisk together the eggs, 3 tablespoons cold water, sautéed garlic, parsley, cheese and salt and pepper in a large bowl until combined. Add the chuck and gently mix together until combined. Begin adding bread crumbs a few tablespoons at a time until the mixture just holds together.
Form the meat into 1½-inch balls. Heat the remaining 1 cup of oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat until it begins to shimmer. Add the meatballs and fry until golden brown on all sides.

Noodles Directions

Fill a medium sized pot with cold water. Place it on the stove on high heat. Bring to a boil.
Reduce water to a simmer. Place the spaghetti into the hot water, making sure the spaghetti is completely covered with water. You may need to break the spaghetti in half.Allow to cook for 10-15 minutes. Spaghetti should be completely soft when finished. Test a strand of pasta to make sure it is finished before turning off the stove. If the center is still hard, allow to cook for an additional 5-10 minutes.Remove pot from heat. Drain the pasta using a colander, then transfer pasta to a plate. Serve immediately.If spaghetti is dry, drizzle with olive oil or butter.

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