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Spaghetti and Meatball Burgers


  • Salt

  • 1/4 pound bucatini or spaghetti

For the sauce:

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)

  • 2 tablespoons butter

  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped

  • 1/2 small white onion, peeled

  • 1 bay leaf

  • 2 cups tomato purée

  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano or marjoram

  • A few leaves torn basil

  • Salt and pepper

  • A pinch crushed red pepper flakes

For the meatball burgers:

  • 1 1/2 pounds beef chuck

  • Salt and pepper

  • 2 1-inch slices white bread, crusts trimmed

  • 3/4 cup whole milk

  • 2-3 tablespoons flat leaf parsley, finely chopped

  • 1/3 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, (a heavy handful)

  • 1 egg, beaten

  • 2 cloves garlic, grated or pasted

  • Olive oil, for frying

  • 8 slices deli-sliced provolone or mozzarella cheese

For the garlic bread rolls:

  • 4 crusty rolls, split, such as ciabatta or plain Kaiser rolls

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)

  • 2 tablespoons butter

  • 1 clove garlic, crushed

  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped

  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, finely chopped

  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese


Bring a medium size pot of water to a boil for the pasta. Season the water with salt, break the pasta in half and cook to al dente; drain and cool. Reserve. In a small saucepot, heat the EVOO and melt the butter over medium heat. Add the garlic and stir a couple of minutes; add the onion, bay leaf, tomatoes, oregano and basil. Season with salt and pepper and simmer at low bubble for 20 minutes. Remove the onion and bay leaf. Place the beef in a bowl and season with salt and pepper. Soak the bread in milk; then squeeze out the liquid, crumble and add it to meat. Add the parsley, cheese, egg, garlic and the reserved cold pasta.

Form the mixture into four large burgers – let the pasta stick out from sides. Heat a thin and even layer of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the patties for 12-15 minutes, turning occasionally until cooked through and crispy. Douse the burgers with sauce and melt the cheese. Turn off the heat. For the rolls, broil the bread to lightly toast. Microwave or heat the EVOO, butter and crushed garlic. Brush the toasted bread and top with the herbs and cheese; broil 1 minute to set the cheese. Serve the meatball burgers on rolls and top with more sauce.