Listen to the Podcast: For the Love of Family, Community & Classic Italian Meatballs
Hosted and produced by Allison Kitchner at WRFI Community Radio


The comfort foods of certain cultures have the charm and audacity to latch onto the heartstrings of a global eatership, like Chinese Fried Rice and Guacamole. I would venture to say that most predominant are Italian Meatballs, or Polpettine. As with most foreign foods, the Italian Meatballs we’ve grown fond of in the U.S. shyly resemble their Italian ancestors. They’ve abolished the language and the technique that originally made this easy, home-cooked staple a succulent and nourishing delight!

When Allison invited me to share a recipe and story on Ithaca Community Radio, I scooped up the chance to shed light on this Italian masterpiece. You can guess what I did first: I dialed the Mamma Hotline.

Listen to the podcast, where the story of my upbringing as a first-generation American blends with my journey to the butcher shop, my secret to making homemade tomato sauce in a snap, and the stovetop sizzle where perfect, juicy meatballs prepare to rest over a bed of spaghetti. (Recipe Below)

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Quick, Easy Tomato Sauce

This sauce is quick, simple and delicious! If you have fresh tomatoes and bell peppers, you can start by roasting your vegetables for a richer homemade tomato sauce.

  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 2 cups


  • Olive oil – 3 tablespoons
  • Yellow onion – 1 cup, diced
  • Garlic – 1 tablespoon, minced
  • Carrots – 1/2 cup, diced
  • Tomato puree – 2 cups
  • Basil – 1 tablespoon dried basil, fresh basil or pesto
  • Oregano – 1 tablespoon, dried
  • Rosemary – 1 tablespoon, dried
  • Thyme – 1 1/2 teaspoons, dried
  • Sea salt – 1/2 teaspoon
  • Black pepper – Freshly ground black pepper to taste


  1. *Note: I have always taken stock of my Mamma’s pantry staple: Pomi Tomato Sauce. It’s inexpensive, large in quantity, and contains just tomatoes and tastes rich when true tomatoes are out of season. Add a splash of red wine along with the tomato sauce to enrich the flavor!
  2. In a large sauce pan, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat.
  3. Add the onions and stir until translucent. Add the garlic and carrots and saute for about 5 minutes.
  4. Add the tomato puree, herbs, salt and pepper. Cover with a lid and simmer for about 10 minutes, until the carrots are fork tender.
  5. Optional: Transfer the tomato sauce to a blender or food processor, or use an immersion blender to puree the sauce. Transfer the tomato sauce back to the pot and simmer over low heat until ready to assemble your dish.

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