If you’re out to impress someone but you’re more into deliciously simple home cooking than fancy dishes you can’t identify, this is your post. Oh—and if you love eating your cannabis in food, yeah, this is also your post.
See, in this post we’re going to show you how to make the best spaghetti and meatballs—including an amazing vegan version—and infuse that sauce with cannabis goodness. We’ll give you a bonus adult spaghetti-os version, and hey, we’ll throw in the quick and cannabinoid-rich infused garlic bread as a bonus.
Can you infuse some spaghetti sauce and jar it up for later—whenever you feel like it? Yes, you can.
You’re about to become the Chef Boyardee of Cannabis, except awesome.
Best Spaghetti and Meatballs
For the sauce:
- ¼ cup infused EVOO
- 6 to 8 garlic cloves, crushed
- Fresh basil sprigs, at least 2, but more if you like, to taste
- Two 28-ounce cans whole peeled tomatoes
- Sea salt, black pepper to taste
For the meatballs:
- 4 slices white bread, crusts cut off
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- ⅓ cup fresh ricotta cheese, whole-milk (or you can use your cannabis cheese if you want)
- ⅓ cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more
- ¼ cup prosciutto, finely chopped
- 1 pound ground beef, 20% fat, but no leaner
For the vegan version of the meatballs:
- 1½ cup cooked quinoa (start with ½ cup dry quinoa and 1 cup water if you need to cook it)
- 1 cup cannellini beans
- 8 ounces or ½ pound cremini mushrooms
- 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
Meatball or vegan meatball seasonings:
- 2 to 4 garlic gloves, crushed, plus more to taste if desired
- 2 tablespoons parsley, finely chopped
- 1½ teaspoons kosher salt, plus more as needed
- ¾ teaspoon oregano (dried)
- ½ teaspoon finely ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
For assembly and serving:
- 2 tablespoons of cooking oil (infused if you want)
- 12 ounces of spaghetti, cooked al dente (which means “to the tooth,” or the chewy, firm way that feels right in the mouth, but basically means “not mushy, man” for beginners)
- Fresh basil, torn for serving
Wow, we finally got here! Don’t worry, you’ve got this.
To make the sauce:
1. In a large heavy pot, heat your infused EVOO oil over medium-low.
2. Add garlic, and cook about 4 to 5 minutes, stirring, until fragrant and golden brown.
3. Stir in sprigs of basil and cook to wilt.
4. Crushing the larger tomatoes with your hands as you work, add the tomatoes and their juices. Add salt and pepper to taste.
5. Bring sauce to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat but continue to cook at a slight simmer, stirring occasionally, until ingredients have married and sauce is thickened, about 60 to 80 minutes. You can do this a few days in advance.
To make the meatballs:
1. Blitz bread in a food processor to make crumbs. In a large bowl, mix the breadcrumbs with the eggs, ricotta cheese or cannabis cheese, ⅓ cup Parmesan cheese, and prosciutto, along with the garlic and parsley from your seasonings.
2. Add 1¼ teaspoon salt, oregano, black pepper, nutmeg, and red pepper flakes to meatballs and mix well. You are hoping to achieve a wet, lumpy paste.
3. Add the beef and break the meatballs into small bits. Using your hands and avoiding overmixing, blend gently until ingredients are evenly incorporated and meatballs are smooth.
4. Begin to reheat the sauce if you made it in advance.
5. Wash your hands and lightly oil them. Using a ¼-cup measuring cup, scoop out meatball portions one at a time. Roll each portion gently with your hands to form balls. Place the meatballs in a pan.
6. Finishing instructions are the same for the vegan meatballs, so skip to assembly and serving below!
To make the vegan meatballs:
1. If you need to cook the quinoa, do that: bring the quinoa, 1 cup water, and a bit of salt to a boil in a small saucepan, cover as you reduce the heat to low, and cook about 12 to 15 minutes, or until all of the water is absorbed and the spirals burst.
2. Pulse the cremini mushrooms in a food processor until just broken down, about 8 to 12 times.
3. Add the cooked quinoa, cannellini beans, and panko breadcrumbs to the mushrooms in the food processor, along with all of your seasonings. Pulse, scraping down the sides as needed, until well combined.
4. Gently form into meatballs using your hands.
Assembly and serving:
1. In a nonstick medium-sized skillet, warm 1 tablespoon of cooking oil, infused if you want, over medium heat. Cook half of the meatballs, turning and stirring at times, for about 5 minutes, until browned on all sides. When the first batch of meatballs is done, add them to the pot of warm sauce.
2. Warm remaining 1 tablespoon of oil and repeat the browning process with the remaining meatballs. Add them to the sauce.
3. Gently simmer all of the meatballs in sauce for 45 to 60 minutes, until they are cooked through and the sauce is rich and thick. Scrape the bottom and sides of the pot carefully to prevent sticking, and add water if the sauce sticks.
4. When meatballs are cooked, move them to a clean dish and cover them to keep them warm.
5. Remove sprigs of basil from the sauce. Smooth out sauce and break up any large tomato chunks with a potato masher or immersion blender. Set aside sauce for serving.
6. Place spaghetti in a serving dish. Top with meatballs and half of the sauce. Sprinkle with the extra Parmesan cheese. Serve with remaining sauce alongside for topping and fresh basil if desired.
Adult Spaghetti-Os: Cannabis Edition
Do this same recipe, except:
- Use short tubular pasta like ditalini or anelletti instead of spaghetti
- Add 2 teaspoons sweet paprika, 2 teaspoons smoked paprika, and 1 tablespoon of regular sugar to your sauce
Sure, it’s technically Spaghetti-Os with Meatballs—or Vegan Meatballs, is that Veatballs or something?—but trust us, no one will mind.
Bonus: Infused Garlic Bread
There is nothing more satisfying than a delicious slab of last second garlic-butter bread—except the version made with cannabutter. All you need to do is this:
- Start with a few thick slices of bread, the more rustic the better, or a baguette or loaf sliced lengthwise
- In a bowl, blend room temperature cannabutter with room temperature regular salted butter, fresh crushed garlic (or powdered garlic if you’re out of the good stuff), salt, pepper, and even parmesan cheese if you like
- Spread that joy over your bread, and bake at high heat until totally toasty
Make the Best Meatballs
Meatballs are a cheap way to dress up almost any kind of meal. Start with ground meat, season it to perfection, and add them to all of your favorite dishes. From a meatball sandwich to Swedish meatballs, you don’t have to settle for one version of spaghetti and meatballs—you just have to make the best meatballs for any occasion.
There are a few tips and tricks that take even the best recipe to the next level, so keep these in mind to make the best, juiciest, most well-seasoned and tender meatballs. Here are some tips on making the best damn meatballs possible:
- Pick Great Meat. You can use even the cheapest ground beef alone, but don’t. Cheap is okay, but aim for a mix of meats for the best results—usually the most flavor comes from a mix of pork and beef, and maybe even lamb if you’re into it. Aim for fattier meats that hold more flavor and stay tender even in meatball form. If you do select leaner meats like turkey or chicken, avoid toughness by being careful not to overcook them.
- Keep Cool. It is critical to keep the fats in the meats solid until you start the cooking process. This means you need to keep the ingredients, including the meats, as cold as you can. When you cook other ingredients first, like if you add in vegetables, cool them down before mixing them in. And always mix your meatballs in a chilled bowl. (If you’ve ever made pastry or something like that, it’s a similar thing—you’re just keeping your fats from melting too soon.)
- Beat the Eggs. Don’t overwork your meatball mixture because you need to beat the eggs. Just beat them before you add them.
- Add Moisture or Use a Panada. Tough meatballs are the enemy, and protein in meat can shrink with heat, causing toughness. Moisture is the key to preventing toughness. This is why you use eggs, or in the case of the vegan version, breadcrumbs and moist mushrooms. Use can also use a panada—a binder—by mixing the bread crumbs with a little milk in with the eggs and cheese so it is like paste. Use fresh bread!
- Taste Before Finishing. Do not eat raw meat! But cook a small sample in oil after you’ve seasoned and before you shape the meatballs. Adjust the seasoning as needed after tasting.
- Be Gentle. No manhandling meatballs! If you pack or smash down meatballs they are guaranteed to be rubbery, tough, and chewy. Your hands are your best tool here, well-greased, but whatever you use, be gentle.
- Sear the Meatballs First. This is why you cook them in the pan before simmering them in the sauce. It helps them stay together and delivers a delicious, flavor-packed, caramelized crust. You cannot achieve a good sear without a big pan and working in batches—you’ll steam the ones that don’t have enough contact with the pan.
- Simmer in Sauce. As long as you’re using sauce, let the meatballs finish cooking by simmering in it. That adds flavor and richness to every sauce and provides more gentle cooking for the meatballs. And for the effect of sauce coating every bit of those meatballs, this is the way.
- Roast in the Oven if There’s No Sauce. There’s no need to fry meatballs in oil or start with a sear if you’re not making sauce. Instead, achieve a more tender meatball that is deliciously brown roasting it in the oven. Roast the meatballs gently in a hot oven, or under the broiler for maximum crispy-edges and browning.
Whaaaat?! Yes, you can change it up and make these babies—and infuse them—so many ways. Here are a few ideas:
Swedish Meatballs. Make this by serving over egg noodles instead of spaghetti, and simmer in Swedish cream sauce. On medium-low heat, melt 2 tablespoons cannabutter in a skillet and whisk in 3 tablespoons flour until it is golden brown. Slowly whisk in 2 cups of beef stock and reduce, stirring often, until thickened. Add in 1 cup heavy cream or milk—infused if you like—and 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce, as well as salt and pepper to taste. Simmer your meatballs until well-coated and brown.
Sweet and Sour Meatballs. Cook 1 red bell pepper, cut into strips, and 1 stalk of celery, sliced thing, for about 5 minutes in a skillet. Add 1½ cups water, 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar, 1/3 cup light brown sugar, and 2 tablespoons of soy sauce. Add a small amount of water to 2 tablespoons of cornstarch and add to skillet; stir well and cook until sauce is thickened. Add 1 cup of fresh or canned pineapple and meatballs. Cook to coat and heat through, or until sauce and meatballs are done.
Alfredo Meatballs. If you like a creamy sauce better than a red sauce, good on you—it’s easier to infuse! Make everything the same way except for the sauce, and create a simple Alfredo sauce as follows. Grate fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, and blend that with a few tablespoons of cannabutter and a bit of heavy cream. Salt and pepper to taste—that’s it.
Curry Meatballs. Can you serve these meatballs with the curry sauce of your choice and rice instead of pasta? Absolutely!
BBQ Meatballs. Or if barbeque is more your speed, they are just as good that way—and BBQ meatballs are an excellent riff on the meatball sandwich, by the way. Just simmer your meatballs in whatever BBQ sauce you love.
Honey Sriracha Meatballs. For this variation, roast your meatballs. In a small saucepan, mix and bring to a boil ¼ cup Sriracha sauce, ¼ cup honey, 4 tablespoons soy sauce, 3 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar, 2 cloves garlic, crushed, and 1 tablespoon of fresh ginger, minced. Simmer over reduced heat for about 10 minutes until sauce is thicker, and serve meatballs coated with the honey Sriracha sauce.
Grape Jelly Meatballs. It sounds nuts, but this is a retro classic appetizer that everyone loves—and helpful hint, make these bite-sized. Just mix 1 cup grape jelly and 1½ cups ketchup, and simmer them to make a sticky glaze. Coat your seared and roasted meatballs and serve with toothpicks.
Final Thoughts on Infused Spaghetti
Yes, friends, there can be no limits to what you’re doing with your infused spaghetti sauce and the meatballs you cooked in it. And remember, cook up some nice, fatty meats in your infused oils and infused your other sauces if you want to mix it up. Whether it’s a cold day in lockdown or your first party out of it, reach for a jar of this sauce.