Spaghetti with Mascarpone and Sage Meatballs

By Elizabeth Fuss

I used to love spaghetti with a cloyingly sweet tomato flavor, dipping a butter-soaked piece of spongy French bread in it, the butter and tomato sauce dripping down my chin.  It has its place, but I’ve since grown to love this deeper, savory spaghetti sauce with a slightly smoky flavor, served with a plain crusty bread and maybe a side of olive oil.




1 pound of ground beef

1 pound of Italian sausage

4 oz. of mascarpone cheese

1 tablespoon of fresh sage, chopped

1 ¼ cups of homemade breadcrumbs

¾ tsp of salt

¼ tsp of fresh ground pepper

¼ cup of Romano cheese

1 egg

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Add all ingredients to a large mixing bowl and mix well with your hands.  If you want to test the seasoning of the meatballs, cook a teaspoon full of the meat mixture in a frying pan, let cool, then taste and adjust seasoning to your liking. Using an ice cream scoop to measure the meat, form meat into balls and place on a broiler pan.  You should have about 24 medium sized meatballs.  Bake at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes.

Spaghetti Sauce

1 tablespoon olive oil

¼ lb pancetta

1 yellow onion, minced

2 large cloves of garlic, minced

1 ¼ cups of beef broth

One 6 oz can of tomato paste

Two 28-oz cans of Muir Glen chunky tomato sauce

3 teaspoons of fresh, chopped sage

Kosher salt + fresh ground pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in a large pot until just smoking.  Add the pancetta and cook over medium heat until pancetta is crispy.  Remove pancetta from pot. 

Add onions and garlic to the pot, season with a touch of salt and pepper and sauté until just golden.  Add beef broth and cook over medium high heat until the onions and garlic have absorbed all of the broth, about 10 minutes.  

Stir in the tomato paste and the tomato sauce.  Sprinkle the pancetta and the sage into the sauce and let simmer for 15 minutes. Add in the meatballs and simmer for an additional 15 minutes.  

The Finish


Cook 1 pound of spaghetti according to the instructions.  Drain pasta, reserving about a cup of pasta water.  Place the noodles in a large mixing bowl and add two ladles of pasta water, one ladle of sauce and a drizzle of olive oil.  Toss to coat all the noodles.  This will help the sauce adhere to the noodles when served.

Plate the pasta and ladle the sauce and meatballs over it.  Top with fresh basil and fresh grated Romano cheese.

Yield: 6 servings

Recipe and text copyright Elizabeth Fuss. Photos by Chelsea Fuss.