Recipe: Spaghetti and Meatballs for 100

The Nickelsville Night Out pasta party was a success with over 40 meals sold and over 25 meals given to volunteers and residents. There were enough leftovers for a meatball sub lunch the next day. Over $2,000 was raised after accounting for matching funds from an anonymous donor.

I knew the night was a success when someone reported that you could smell the food from a block away. Reminds me of when I lived on the first floor of an apartment building and would cook deliberately aromatic meals knowing that the smell would tantalize my neighbor (and platonic friend) Olivia. This was in the early 90s in Seattle’s hardscrabble Belltown neighborhood where a young woman like Olivia would not necessarily feel safe going out after dark. There were barely any restaurants around and certainly no Uber Eats or DoorDash.

Spaghetti and meatballs with garlic bread and cucumber salad. These were the first four servings we plated up which is why they look sort of gnarly. Each plate got three large meatballs.The volunteers/residents got four - plus second helpings.

Prepping for potentially 100 entrees was challenging using my home kitchen/backyard setup and I have my eye on a few community or commissary kitchens that would work better for next time. The Nirvana Wok concept is designed to be autonomous so that we could drop in to, say, a disaster area and set up a portable outdoor propane kitchen in a matter of minutes, and I was fully prepared to show up at Nickelsville and set up with no facilities. Luckily they let me use their kitchen which has a sink, two refrigerators, an electric stove and other features and that worked out great. The volunteers were a huge help when we were rushed and trying to plate up the food. The five teen boys that I brought along didn’t do much but added to the festive atmosphere of the party. The music was the kind of stuff you’d hear playing at an Italian red sauce restaurant and there was popcorn and a soda station. Good job Kathy and Nickelsville staff for making this happen!

Spicy spaghetti and meatballs during a heat wave is not ideal but the food was a big hit. A lady who was in her 90s was a fan of the meatballs and donated an extra ten bucks for some to take home. Another woman loved the garlic butter so much that she put it on her pasta and I gave her a bunch of that to take home too.

Need to make meatballs for 100 people? See the Nirvana Wok Italian meatball recipe below. Our food costs for this entire event were well below 300 bucks, or less than $3 per person.

–Chef Alex

Nirvana Wok’s Italian Meatballs for 100

  • 20 lbs ground beef

  • 10 eggs

  • 2 heads parsley

  • 2 heads garlic

  • 3 cups Panko (soaked in milk)

  • 3 cups bread crumbs (soaked in milk)

  • Salt, red pepper, black pepper

Prep and combine ingredients, roll out your balls and cook at 350 on foil-lined pans until browned on the outside and above 170 degrees inside.

Apologies for the crappy photos. It occurs to me that the lens on my iPhone 7 – the second smart phone I have ever owned – looks like someone took sandpaper to it.