super garlic spaghetti with pesto chicken meatballs

Spaghetti is a thing I usually cook only because I am tired, drained, or broke. This time, it's because I have these very nice and fairly expensive organic pre-fab pesto parmesan meatballs that, without my care, would be worthless by the time I return. On the night before vacation, I strategically arrange to be out of produce, so there is none of that in this pasta — but thanks to adventures in ho-made grilled pizza this weekend, I did have a shit ton of basil that needed a home, and here we are.

I felt vaguely sorry for the San Francisco-bound passenger that could be next to me as my pores inevitably leech out leftover garlic from this 4-clove monstrosity, just as I'm sure the guy in 21A on my last flight to Denver was to me. But still, having sniffed his sulfuric oils while we waited on hell's tarmac for 2 hours, the memory lingers, and for that reason I reduced the total clove count to 3. Problem solved.



Effortful time: 5 minutes 
Total time: 25 minutes 
Serves: 2


  • 2/3 lb. spaghetti

  • 4 tbsp. garlic olive oil, divided

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced

  • 4 tbsp. grated Parm or Romano, plus extra

  • 1/2 cup reserved pasta water

  • 8 leaves of fresh basil, ribboned

  • 10 pre-cooked pesto chicken meatballs, optional

  • Salt + pepper


  1. Set the water to boil and give it a good deal of salt.

  2. If using, lay out the meatballs on a foil sheet. Bake at 425° about 12 minutes. 

  3. Cook spaghetti until just under al dente. Save 1/2 cup of pasta water and drain. 

  4. In the same pot, add minced garlic and 2 tbsp. of olive oil. Cook until just beginning to brown, then immediately pile in the spinach. Pour the pasta in and toss. Add the rest of the oil, a splash of pasta water, and some cheese. Toss with tongs until the garlic is distributed more or less evenly and the sauce creates a thin coat. 

  5. Remove the now-cooked meatballs and stir around again to get them sauced properly. 

  6. Add the remaining extra cheese for garnish.