Makes 6 to 8 servings

“A composite of what I’ve learned about spaghetti and meatballs from the various Italian grandmothers in my life, this is everything that the classic dish should be—the perfect example of abbondanza, which means glorious excess. This makes a large amount, but even if you don’t have a big family, make the entire amount to have leftovers for another meal.” — Rick Rodgers, “I Love Meatballs!” (Andrews McMeel, $19.99)

For meatballs:

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large onion, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 pound ground round (85 percent lean)

1 pound sweet Italian sausage, casings removed

1 cup dried plain bread crumbs

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

2 large eggs, beaten

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon dried basil

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For classic tomato pasta sauce:

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium yellow onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes

1 (16-ounce) can tomato sauce

1 cup hearty red wine, such as Shiraz

2 teaspoons dried oregano

2 teaspoons dried basil

1/4 teaspoon crushed hot red pepper

1 bay leaf

11/2 pounds spaghetti

Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for serving

Directions

To make the meatballs, heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute more. Transfer to a large bowl and let cool completely.

Add the ground round, sausage, bread crumbs, Parmesan, eggs, oregano, basil, salt, and pepper to the onion mixture and mix well. Cover and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes or up to 4 hours.

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees. Lightly oil a large metal roasting pan. Using your wet hands rinsed under cold water, shape the meat mixture into 24 equal meatballs. Arrange the meatballs in the pan. Bake until lightly browned, about 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, start the sauce. Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed nonreactive pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute more. Stir in the tomatoes, tomato sauce, wine, oregano, basil, hot pepper, and bay leaf. Bring to a simmer over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered and stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes.

Transfer the meatballs to a platter. Pour the fat out of the roasting pan, leaving the browned bits in the pan. Heat the pan over high heat. When it sizzles, pour in 1/2 cup water and bring to a boil, scraping up the browned bits in the pan with a wooden spatula. Stir into the sauce. Add the meatballs to the sauce and return to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the meatballs are cooked through, about 30 minutes more.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the spaghetti and cook according to the package directions until al dente. Drain well and return to the pot.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the meatballs to a platter. Remove the bay leaf from the sauce and discard. Add the sauce to the spaghetti in the pot and stir well. Transfer the spaghetti and sauce to a large warmed serving bowl and top with the meatballs. Serve hot, with Parmesan passed at the table.

Makes about 40 (¾-inch) meatballs

Ingredients

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter

1/3 cup Frank’s RedHot Sauce or any other favorite hot sauce

1 pound ground chicken, preferably thigh meat

1 large egg

½ celery rib, minced

¾ cup bread crumbs

1 teaspoon salt

Directions

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Drizzle the vegetable oil into a 9×13-inch baking dish and use your hand to evenly coat the entire surface. Set aside.

Combine the butter and hot sauce in a small saucepan, and cook over low heat, whisking until the butter is melted and fully incorporated. Remove from the heat and allow the mixture to cool for 10 minutes.

Combine the hot sauce mixture, ground chicken, egg, celery, bread crumbs, and salt in a large mixing bowl and mix by hand until thoroughly incorporated.

Roll the mixture into round, ¾-inch balls, making sure to pack the meat firmly. Place the balls in the prepared baking dish, being careful to line them up snugly and in even rows vertically and horizontally to form a grid. The meatballs should be touching one another.

Roast for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the meatballs are firm and cooked through. A meat thermometer inserted into the center of a meatball should read 165 degrees.

Allow the meatballs to cool for 5 minutes in the baking dish before serving with blue cheese dressing (recipe follows), if desired.

Makes 2 cups

Ingredients

¾ cup sour cream

1/3 cup crumbled blue cheese

1/3 cup whole milk

1/3 cup mayonnaise

1 teaspoon salt or more to taste

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

Directions

Place the sour cream, blue cheese, milk, mayonnaise, salt, and vinegar in a medium bowl and whisk thoroughly until completely combined. Taste and adjust the seasoning, if desired.

— From “The Meatball Shop Cookbook” by Daniel Holzman and Michael Chernow (Ballantine, $28)

Makes about 2 dozen 1½ -inch meatballs

Ingredients

2 cups lentils

¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

2 carrots, chopped

2 celery ribs, chopped

1 garlic clove, minced

1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme

2 teaspoons salt

3 tablespoons tomato paste

8 ounces button mushrooms, wiped clean and sliced

3 large eggs

½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

½ cup bread crumbs

½ cup chopped fresh parsley

¼ cup finely chopped walnuts

Directions

Combine the lentils and 2 quarts water in a medium stockpot and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the lentils are soft (but not falling apart), about 25 minutes. Drain the lentils and allow to cool.

Add 1/4 cup of the olive oil to a large frying pan and sauté the onions, carrots, celery, garlic, thyme, and salt over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes, until the vegetables are tender and just beginning to brown. Add the tomato paste and continue to cook, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring frequently, for 15 more minutes, or until all the liquid is absorbed. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and allow to cool to room temperature. When cool, add the lentils to the vegetable mixture.

Add the eggs, Parmesan, bread crumbs, parsley, and walnuts to the cooled vegetable mixture and mix by hand until thoroughly incorporated. Place in the refrigerator for 25 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Drizzle the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil into a 9×13-inch baking dish and use your hand to evenly coat the entire surface. Set aside.

Roll the mixture into round, gold ball-size meatballs (about 1½ inches), making sure to pack the vegetable mixture firmly. Place the balls in the prepared baking dish, allowing ¼ inch of space between the balls and place them in even rows vertically and horizontally to form a grid.

Roast for 30 minutes, or until the meatballs are firm and cooked through.

Allow the meatballs to cool for 5 minutes in the baking dish before serving with pesto (recipe follows), if desired.

Makes 4 cups

Ingredients

¼ cup roughly chopped walnuts

4 cups baby spinach leaves

2 cups fresh basil

1 teaspoon salt or to taste

½ cup olive oil

¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Fill a large stockpot three-quarters full with water and bring to a boil over high heat.

Meanwhile, spread out the walnuts on a small rimmed baking sheet and roast in the oven for about 12 minutes, giving them a shake after 6 minutes. Continue roasting until golden brown and toasted. Set aside and allow to cool thoroughly.

Fill a large bowl halfway with ice and water, and set it close to the sink.

Dump the spinach and basil into the boiling water and stir. After 1 minute, strain the greens, and plunge them into the bowl with ice water. Drain the greens again and squeeze them tightly to get as much water out as possible. Chop the greens roughly.

Combine the greens and walnuts with the salt, olive oil, and Parmesan in a food processor and process until a smooth consistency is reached. Taste and season with additional salt, if desired.

— From “The Meatball Shop Cookbook” by Daniel Holzman and Michael Chernow (Ballantine, $28)

Makes 4 to 6 servings

For tzatziki:

2 standard cucumbers

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup Greek-style yogurt

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh mint

2 cloves garlic, crushed though a press

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For Greek meatballs:

1 cup fresh bread crumbs

1/2 cup milk

11/2 pounds ground round (85 percent lean), or use half ground round and half ground lamb

1 medium yellow onion, shredded on the large holes of a box grater

4 cloves garlic, crushed through a press

2 large eggs, beaten

2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint

2 teaspoons dried oregano

11/2 teaspoons kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

3 tablespoons olive oil

Wooden toothpicks, for serving

Directions

To make the tzatziki, peel the cucumbers. Cut each in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds with a spoon. Shred on the large holes of a box grater. Transfer to a wire sieve and toss with the salt. Let drain in the sink for 30 minutes to 1 hour. A handful at a time, squeeze the shredded cucumbers to extract more liquid, then transfer to a medium bowl. Add the yogurt, lemon juice, mint, garlic, and pepper and mix well. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 days.

To make the meatballs, combine the bread crumbs and milk in a large bowl. Let stand until the bread crumbs are thoroughly moistened, about 3 minutes. Add the ground meat, onion, garlic, eggs, mint, oregano, salt, pepper, and cinnamon. Use your hands to mix the meat mixture well. Cover and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes or up to 4 hours.

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Using your wet hands rinsed under cold water, shape the meat mixture into 18 equal meatballs. Transfer the meatballs to a plate. Heat the oil in a large skillet (preferably nonstick) over medium heat. In batches, add the meatballs and cook, turning occasionally, until lightly browned and cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a baking sheet and keep warm in the oven while cooking the remaining meatballs.

Spoon the tzatziki into individual ramekins or small serving bowls. Drain the meatballs briefly on paper towels. Serve the meatballs hot, with toothpicks for spearing and the tzatziki as a dip.

— From “I Love Meatballs!” by Rick Rodgers, (Andrews McMeel, $19.99)