I’m introducing you to something… new.
If the title makes you scratch your head in confusion and maybe, curiosity, please know that you are not alone. I was like you once. In fact, I still kind don’t understand where this recipe came from or how it came to be.
I first heard about this from my husband’s family who eats their spaghetti and meatballs with these hard boiled eggs every Sunday. In case you couldn’t tell, they are VERY Italian.
But, when I asked for the rationale of using eggs in sauce, I was met with the sound of chirping crickets. I guess it was just never a question before I came along. And, while I think it is 100% okay to add eggs to your spaghetti simply because your parents taught you to do it, I still needed more information.
I searched the internet and found that while this is certainly uncommon, there are several families out there who also participate in this tradition. I have found a couple potential reasons for it and I’m not sure which one is true, so I’ll let you decide for yourself.
One theory is that eggs help reduce acidity in the sauce. Diving into this further would require a refresher in Organic Chemistry as I’m a little rusty, but I suppose it’s plausible. My only concern is that eggs are not typically alkaline foods. In fact, they are banned from most “Alkaline Diets”. I’ve seen some other versions of sauce that use baked potatoes or seafood for this purpose, and because of their inherent alkalinity, they seem more likely to neutralize the sauce. Regardless, it does seem to tone down the acid bite of tomatoes somehow.
The second theory is less chemistry, and more socioeconomical. It is suggested that the egg was historically used in Italy as a protein substitute. Basically, if meat was scarce, or very expensive, eggs could be used as a cheap and readily available makeshift “meatball” in sauce. I think this seems like a more logical explanation, but since I am neither a chemist or a historical Italian figure, I can’t say for sure.
What I do know is that this is my husband’s favorite way of serving up spaghetti and meatballs, and it might end up being your favorite as well from here on out!
Spaghetti and Meatballs with Hard Boiled Eggs
(Makes 4 servings)
1 lb. spaghetti
2 cups Italian Marinara Sauce
4 Italian meatballs
Freshly shredded Parmesan cheese for garnish
Fresh parsley for garnish
Cook the meatballs and sauce as directed.
Place eggs in a pot of water so they’re fully immersed. Cook on high. Once the water is boiling, cook the eggs an additional 11 minutes. Remove from heat and strain water. Let cool. Remove shells.
Place eggs and meatballs in sauce while it simmers.
Cook spaghetti using package instructions. I typically cook the pasta one minute less than the instructions to make the noodles al dente.
Plate the noodles and pour the sauce over top, giving each plate one meatball and one egg.
Top with fresh Parmesan and parsley.