Another easy and relatively healthy mid-week meal. This recipe pretty much looks like you would expect, the main difference being thathe meatballs are baked in the oven rather than being browned in a frying pan. While some flavour may be lost due to the lack of browning of the meat, this meal is still a winner, and you loose a few cals by not frying. It also means less mess for me, and less chance of being burnt by spitting oil. While the balls are in the oven and the sauce is cooking it also means that I can watch come dine with me/tidy/relax after work. I like to add courgette and spinach to the tomato sauce, not only is it hidden vegetables (kids-fussy other halves) it also can help to bulk the sauce out if you only want to use half of the meat for example Cooking is about compromises, especially in the week.
As with most of my recipes this will easily serve 4- 2 good sized portions for dinner, and 2 smaller sized portions for lunch the next day.
- Sharp knife
- Chopping board
- Mixing bowl
- Baking tray/dish
- Wooden spoon
Ingredients tomato sauce
- 2 teaspoons of oil
- 1 onion
- 1 carrot
- 2 celery sticks
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1 tablespoon tomato puree
- 2 teaspoons oregano
- 2 teaspoons dried thyme
- 2 teaspoons chilli flakes
- 20g freshly grated parmesan (more if to be used as a garnish)
- Corgette (optional)
- Spinach (optional)
- 1 handful fresh basil leaves
Ingredients Baked meatballs
- 125g lean pork mince
- 125g lean beef mince
- 1 onion
Method tomato sauce
- Finely dice the onion, carrot and celery.
- Soften the vegetables in the 2 teaspoons of oil slowly. Add a small pinch of salt to help soften the vegetables without too much browning
- Finely chop the garlic
- Once softened (10 minutes) add the tablespoon of tomato puree and the 2 cloves of chopped garlic. Cook for 3 minutes to remove the rawness
- Add in the dried herbs and chilli flakes
- Tip In the 2 tins of chopped tomatoes
- If you like, at this stage you can also add a couple of dashes of Worcester sauce, and a teaspoon or two of balsamic vinegar.
- Stir through 20g of grated parmesan
- Season to taste, tomatoes can be acidic, so if you need to don’t be scared to add some brown sugar, a teaspoon at a time, tasting inbetween (or if you are classy like me, chuck in a few sugar cubes!)
- Leave to simmer for at least an hour, stirring occasionally.
- If you want to add the courgette to help bulk out the sauce add it diced fairly small with around 20 minutes cooking time left.
- Crack on with the meatballs!
- Grate onion and add all of pulp and any liquid to a mixing bowl
- Add the pork and beef mince to the onion mix
- Season with 1tsp of salt and 2 tsps pepper
- Mix well with hands until combined
- Shape in to small balls-roughly 8-16 depending on how you want them.
- Place on to a baking sheet, and cook at 200oC-gas mark 6 for between 20-40 minutes depending on size. Cut one open to check it is cooked through before removing from the oven.
If you are going to serve these with pasta, or cous cous, have this ready for 10 minutes after the meatballs come out of the oven.
- Chop the fresh basil and stir through the tomato sauce
- Add the cooked meatballs to the tomato sauce and stir gently to not break the balls.
- Cook in the sauce for between 5-10 minutes.
- If adding the spinach add it with 5 minutes cooking time left (I like to roughly chop the leaves before I add them, but by all means leave them whole).
- Serve the meatballs and sauce with pasta, or cous cous, or with roasted veg.
- Top with some freshly grated parmesan and a sprig of basil.