Ragu is very important. Meatballs are important to be sure, but in my opinion, ragu is more important. I reserve the right to change my opinion.
Anybody can have meatballs. They are the best choice if you have some basic root vegetables, a limited amount of the cheapest meat available, and some eggs and tomatoes. Breadcrumbs are need but any stale old bread can be ground into great breadcrumbs. Just add your own time to chop the vegetables, form and brown the meatballs. Set the meatballs aside, make your sauce and return the meatballs to simmer for a few hours.
You will achieve great balls with a little practice. Dried basil, parsley, black pepper, and salt are all the seasonings needed. Meatballs became important because you can transform the cheapest processed ground meat into a wonderful sauce. Then you can have spaghetti and meatballs, fettuccine works as well but everybody knows spaghetti and meatballs for a reason. Broccoli rabe, broccoli, green beans, or asparagus are all good sides for spaghetti and meatballs.
These days, time is money even moreso than when time started being money. Money is now time as well. What does this have to do with a time intensive sauce like ragu? Take your meat, cut it into large chunks, sear and remove. Start your sauce and return the meat, and you will immediately see your time free up to do other activities. You will need to watch the sauce just as long, but at least you are not standing there turning the meatballs and making sure they are just browned and not falling apart. You also save the step of carefully forming all the balls. The only added step is chopping the cooked meat chunks into bit size pieces and returning them to the sauce!]
Into the ragu you want to add rosemary and thyme, as well as lots of wine and homemade broth. The ragu is about as difficult a sauce as meatballs, but the ingredient quality is higher, and the final product is much heartier, and is ok for gluten free people. My opinion is that the fettuccine ragu is better than spaghetti and meatballs, broccoli rabe is again the vegetable of choice, but the options are many.
Ragu has been around for millenia, where the not so meaty balls came from is anyone’s guess.
Why is there a company called Ragu that makes shitty sauce? Again, anyone’s guess. Ragu was never lost in Italy, but the US the name must be reclaimed from the offending Ragu. Capital Rs don’t make the sauce better. It is bad. It is bad for everybody.