How I met your Father….

My husband often tells me that the reason he married me was because of my meatballs. They are one of his favourite things to eat and I often end up making them at least a couple of times a month. My usual ones are of the Italian variety and I serve them with tagliatelle or spaghetti.

I have to say that I never really tend to stick to a tried and tested recipe, I like to try different variants every time, just to see if I can make them that little bit better.

This time, I made a few tweaks, namely the inclusion of breadcrumbs to the meatball mix (I have never really seen the point of using them before but have heard these really keep them tender) baking the meatballs rather than frying them off, and the addition of a bay leaf to the sauce.

Spiced Meatballs in Tomato Sauce

For the meatballs
2-3 cloves garlic, crushed (depends if you like garlic!)
500g minced beef / pork or a mixture of the two
60g breadcrumbs (I used an old pitta bread and blitzed it)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 a freshly grated nutmeg
Grated zest of 1 lemon
small bunch of parsley, finely chopped (I used parsley because I had some in my fridge, but feel free to use whichever herbs you choose, I often use basil).

For the tomato sauce
1 large jar (650g?) passata
1 med – large onion, finely chopped
2 sticks celery, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic,
a few sprigs of thyme, leaves picked (Again or use whichever herbs you have at hand)
1 bay leaf
1 chilli (optional) – deseeded if you don’t want too much heat or leave them in if you do.
glug of olive oil
1 tbsp sugar

To serve
Tagliatelle or spaghetti
Chopped parsley
Grated parmesan

Preheat the oven to 200°C / gas mark 6

Firstly, make the meatballs. Simply mix all of the ingredients into a bowl (or whiz up in a food processor like I do) and season well. Form the mixture into walnut sized balls and place on a greased baking tray.

Then place the meatballs in the oven for about 10-15 mins or until golden brown. (They don’t need to be cooked through)

Whilst the meatballs are in the oven, make a start on the sauce. Add a glug of olive oil to a large pan and add the onion and celery. Soften for around 5 minutes, taking care not to brown them too much. Then add the garlic, herbs, chilli and bay leaf. Stir and soften for another 3 minutes and then add the passata and the sugar. (The sugar takes the acidity away from the tomatoes). Then fill the passata jar  a third full with water and add that too.

Allow the sauce to come to a simmer then add the meatballs to the sauce.
Leave the meatballs and sauce to rumble away on a low heat until the sauce has thickened. (This can take from 30 – 45 mins, but it’s worth the wait!)

Cook the pasta and stir it into the sauce and meatballs. Serve in a large, heated shallow bowls and scatter with parsley and serve with grated parmesan

Enjoy with a glass of red (or white or pink of you prefer!)

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