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Spaghetti and Meatballs

It’s cold and wet outside and I wanted something warm and comforting to eat.  My kids voted for spaghetti and meatballs – ‘the sausagey ones!’.  I wasn’t going to argue with that – it’s one of those meals where you can pretty much guarantee that everyone will clear their plates.  These are easy to make, and even better, they’re easy to freeze for a quick mid week meal.  However, the second meal might need some garlic bread served with it to make up for the extra meatball or two that always seem to be pilfered from the leftovers…
I realised halfway through making these that I had no tinned tomatoes, but I did have a big box of fresh tomatoes.  Crisis averted!  It tastes just as good either way, so I’ve included instructions for both.

Spaghetti and Meatballs (serves 6 to 8):

Ingredients:
Meatballs (makes about 24 or 25 meatballs)

  • 4 good quality sausages taken out of their skins
  • 500g lean minced beef
  • 50g breadcrumbs
  • 50g grated parmesan
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp chopped parsley
  • 1 tbsp  Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • pinch of salt and pepper

Sauce

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 sticks celery, finely chopped
  • 1 red pepper, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 140ml red wine
  • 800g fresh tomatoes or 2x400g tins of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 heaped tbsp of tomato puree
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • pinch of salt and pepper

also

  • Approx 100g of spaghetti per person
  • grated parmesan and a bit of parsley or basil to serve

Method

  1. Preheat the over to 200C.
  2. Mix all of the meatball ingredients in a bowl with your hands.  Squash it all together but don’t overmix as this will make the meatballs tough.  Shape the meatballs into little balls – the size of a golfball – and place them on a baking tray.  Put in the oven for about 25 mins.  Keep an eye on them toward the end of the cooking time and turn the oven down a little if they start going too dark.
  3. Put the water on to heat for the spaghetti.
  4. Whilst the meatballs are cooking, make the sauce.  Fry the onions in the olive oil on a low heat for about 5 mins.  Add the garlic, celery and red pepper and cook for another couple of mins.  Add the red wine and let it bubble for a couple of minutes.
  5. At this point the water will probably be boiling, so put the spaghetti on to cook for about 12 minutes
  6. Add the tomatoes, tomato puree, sugar, oregano and salt and pepper to the sauce and let it bubble until the meatballs and pasta are ready.  If using fresh tomatoes, give them a bit of a squish a couple of times during cooking.  Also, if you have the rind leftover from the parmesan you can bung it in there too – to add a bit more flavour (just remember to take it out before serving).
  7. Drain the spaghetti and put on plates, then add the meatballs to the sauce and give them a quick mix.  Place the meatballs onto the spaghetti (I usually serve 4 meatballs per adult and 2 for children) and garnish with some grated parmesan and parsley or basil.

Any leftover meatballs and sauce should be cooled and then frozen (you can freeze the meatballs and sauce together).  To reheat, simply defrost thoroughly and heat through in a pan for about 15 minutes until the meatballs are hot all the way through.