Simple Recipe for Gemelli & Meatballs w/ Marinara Sauce (Pumpkin Pie, too!)


We are getting ready for the movers to come next week, so I haven’t been cooking too much 😒. The other night I put down the boxes and tape and decided to create some comfort food for us one last time in our beloved kitchen. Luckily, I had ingredients on hand to make a huge comforting meal (dessert included) that is actually quite good for you, and not terribly expensive. My husband loved the gemelli & sauce so much it was a joy to see him eat it along with me saying, “Wow…this turned out great.”

Our Last Meatballs

I kept thinking in the back of my mind how this will be the last time I cook meatballs in this kitchen. It’s hard for me to imagine that, but I’m doing okay with it. I keep thinking what if I was given the option to stay in this house, would I take it? The answer is, “No.” We are ready to move on, and can’t wait to share our adventures of finding our next home with you. I hope you stay with us 😊. Let’s get to these comforting recipes now…

Tender Beautiful Meatball Recipe

This tender beautiful meatball recipe below is different than my original meatball recipe a few years ago. In this recipe. I don’t use ground chicken, and I cook them on the stove, before I add them to the sauce. I’ve also reduced the sodium because I found that my old meatballs were competing with the sauce. If meatballs are too salty, they don’t need the sauce, and the combination is too much. Trust me…meatballs should not be salty.

When cooking your meatballs, one of the most important things to remember is to not over cook them so they become too dried out. I use a meat thermometer like you see below, and I remove the meatballs one by one when they reach 165 degrees. I treat them like little meatball babies that need very special care. I don’t like to “finish cooking them” in the sauce because my sauce reduces too much. I add the fully cooked 165 degree meatballs after the sauce is finished and I serve the dish relatively soon.

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Don’t over cook those little babies!


Gorgeous Thin Marinara Sauce

This delicious marinara sauce has been my “go-to” tomato sauce recipe for over 30 years. My husband learned the basics to it when he painted his way through law school. You see, Rick was painting an Italian lady’s house when she made lunch for him and his crew. Not only that, she wrote out the recipe for my husband, and I still have it. Nina’s recipe is a little different (the tomatoes she uses may shock you) but trust me it is so amazing, very versatile, and you will use it often in any pasta dish you can think of. This is a “thin” sauce with lots of tomato flavor.

Yield: 10

Simple Recipe for Gemelli & Meatballs w/ Marinara Sauce

Simple Recipe for Gemelli & Meatballs w/ Marinara Sauce

This savory pasta recipe combines firm gemelli twisty noodles with a tangy thin tomato sauce allowing the meatballs to shine. The texture of the noodles against the tender meatballs is hightly addictive.

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes


  • Marinara Tomato Sauce:
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 5 large cloves fresh garlic chopped
  • 1 large 48 ounce can of tomato juice
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Lots of fresh Basil (pull Basil leaves off vine and then pinch into smaller pieces instead of cutting. Start with a handful of leaves, and add more later if desired. If you don't have fresh Basil, add about 1 tablespoon of dried.
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • ground pepper to taste
  • I didn't add salt, but you can if you wish!
  • Meatballs:
  • 1.5 lbs. Costco brand ground turkey (it is my favorite) or lean ground beef
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup milk (I use skim)
  • 3/4 cup Progresso Italian style bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup fresh grated parmigiana
  • 1 tablespoon fresh or dried parsley (use less if fresh)
  • Noodles:
  • 1 lb. Gemelli pasta
  • salted water


Marinara Tomato Sauce:

Add olive oil and garlic to large pan on medium heat. Allow garlic to release it's flavor into the oil for about 3 minutes while you open the can of tomato juice. Pour tomato juice over garlic before the garlic becomes brown (if it burns start over). Add remaining ingredients while sauce cooks on medium heat (not boiling). Allow to simmer lightly for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Your sauce is ready (turn off the heat until you are ready to serve).


Defrost meat if not already defrosted and add to a large mixing bowl. Add remaining ingredients and mix well. If you feel it is too sticky, add a little more bread crumbs until the mixture can make balls easily with your hands without feeling too sticky. Have a small bowl of water near by to dip your fingers in inbetween making the meatballs. The water will aid in keeping the mixture from sticking to your fingers. As far as size...I prefer a small to medium meatball which will not dry out while getting the middle done. The meatbballs in the photo were actually larger than usual for me.

To cook meatballs, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to large frying pan. Heat up the oil a little to help spread the oil all over the pan. Turn off the heat while you add your meatballs (I like to roll my meatballs and put the finished ball in the pan before they begin cooking so they all cook together like a team). Then cook them on medium heat turning each one occasionally until they reach 165 degrees. You can add meatballs to sauce now, or keep them separate.


Salt water before cooking pasta and cook the gemelli to "al dente" like the package suggests not cooking to the full time, allowing the pasta to remain firm. I usually go under the al dente suggested time by 1 minute.

Serve everything the way you prefer best. For this round I added plain noodles to the bowl, then meatballs, then sauce. Top with fresh grated parmigiana. Dessert was pumpkin pie which is below...

Pumpkin Pie w/ Easy Pie Crust

There’s nothing better than a sweet dessert after a savory pasta dish, right? Pure heaven. With fall approaching I decided to use up the lonely can of pumpkin I still had in our pantry from last year. Don’t worry, I checked the date and we were good. I also had all of the ingredients for my homemade pie crust because all 4 ingredients are basic staples. Just so you know, I use this easy peasy pie crust for Dutch apple, pecan, and now pumpkin. This pie crust is so simple, the photos below prove it. As far as the pumpkin pie filling, I used the back of the pumpkin can recipe 😲 and then just topped the pie with chopped pecans (it was what I had on hand, but walnuts would be great) after it was done baking.



Pumpkin Pie Filling & Topping

For the pumpkin pie filling and the topping I used the back of the pumpkin can recipe for basic pumpkin pie 😲, and then I added chopped pecans on top after it came out of the oven 😊. I topped it all with my favorite whipped topping. Just follow the baking instructions on the back of the pumpkin can and watch the crust while it’s baking so it doesn’t over cook. I like to use a pie crust saver to put on all my pies which can be found HERE.

FYI I used a tart plate because I prefer it better than a pie plate.

Now it’s time for me to get back to moving. If you have any questions about these recipes, please send me a message below…

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