We all need a bit of comfort food now and then and these meatballs are one of my go-to dishes when I’m in need of something warm and satisfying. My daughter’s favourite food is spaghetti (or “pagetti” as she calls it) so I have been taking advantage of her love of all things pasta by trying some more adventurous sauces.
This recipe is packed full of fresh herbs, olives and sun dried tomatoes and is a fantastic dish to get your fussy little eaters used to tasting stronger flavours. If they pull faces at the olives try cutting them up into small pieces.
I prefer to use full fat mince rather than the lean variety for this dish as the extra fat helps to bind the meatballs and stops them from crumbling. The recipe says to cook the meatballs and sauce for 30-40 minutes but if you have the time try cooking it for up to 2 hours to really intensify the flavours. Just watch out that the sauce doesn’t reduce too much. You can add extra stock if it does.
This dish is so versatile it can easily be made ahead of time and reheated, or even frozen. And if you have extra sauce left in the bottom of the pan don’t chuck it away. It will keep in the fridge for up to 2 days and can be warmed and added to pasta for a quick lunch, or even eaten with crusty bed as a tasty dipping sauce.
- 500g mince (beef or pork)
- 2 tbsp fresh basil
- 2 tsp fresh thyme
- 1 tbsp grated parmesan
- 25g breadcrumbs
- zest and juice of ½ lemon
- 1 egg (white only)
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 3 shallots (or 1 small onion)
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 50g chorizo sausage, diced
- 400ml beef stock or red wine (I use a mixture of both)
- 1 tin chopped tomatoes
- 250g cherry tomatoes
- 4 sun dried tomatoes, roughly chopped
- 20 black pitted olives
- 2 bay leaves
- parsley to garnish
- grated parmesan to garnish
- In a large bowl add the mince, half the basil and thyme, parmesan, breadcrumbs and lemon zest. Use your hands to combine the ingredients well. Add the egg white, season with salt and pepper and work the mixture again with your hands until everything is well combined. Mould the mixture into 8 meatballs and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes
- In a deep heavy based pan (I use a casserole dish) heat the oil at a medium heat. Fry the meatballs, turning regularly until they are brown all over. Remove the meatballs and set them aside on a plate.
- Add the shallots to the pan and fry gently until they begin to brown. Add the garlic and chorizo and cook for a futher 2-3 minutes.
- Add the stock/red wine, scrape the bottom of the pan to release the flavours and let the mixture bubble for 5 minutes.
- Add the tin of chopped tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, sun dried tomatoes, black olives, bay leaves and the remaining basil and thyme. Return the meatballs to the pan and simmer for 30 to 40 minutes.
- Remove from the heat, season if necessary and add the lemon juice to taste. Don't forget to remove the bay leaves!
- Serve with cooked spaghetti and garnish with parsley and grated parmesan.