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.
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.
The Spaghetti and Meatballs Recipe:
Spaghetti and Meatballs
Meatballs (makes about 18-20 meatballs)
- 3 good quality sausages taken out of their skins
- 10 1/2 oz (300g) minced beef
- 2 tbsp (25g) panko breadcrumbs
- 1/4 cup (25g) grated parmesan
- 1/2 small onion finely chopped
- 1 tbsp chopped parsley
- 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 1 small egg
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- pinch of salt and pepper
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 large onion finely chopped
- 2 sticks celery finely chopped
- 1 red pepper finely chopped
- 3 cloves of garlic crushed
- 1/2 cup (120ml) red wine
- 28 oz (800g or 2x400g) tins of chopped tomatoes
- 1 heaped tbsp of tomato puree/paste
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- pinch of salt and pepper
- 10.5 oz (300g) dried spaghetti or fresh pasta
- grated parmesan and fresh parsley or basil to serve
- Preheat the over to 200C/400F.
- 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 20 minutes. 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.
- Put the water on to heat for the spaghetti.
- Whilst the meatballs are cooking, make the sauce.
- Fry the onions in the olive oil on a medium heat for about 5 mins, until softened.
- Add the garlic, celery and red pepper and cook for another 2 minutes.
- Add the red wine and let it bubble for a couple of minutes.
- At this point the water will probably be boiling, so put the spaghetti on to cook for about 12-13 minutes (or per pack instructions).
- Add the tinned tomatoes, tomato puree, sugar, oregano and salt and pepper to the sauce and bring to the boil. Then simmer for gently until the meatballs and pasta are ready.
- Drain the spaghetti, reserving a cup of the cooking water. Add the spaghetti to the sauce and toss together using tongs. Add some of the cooking water if you want it to be a little saucier.
- Add the meatballs to the pan and move them around a little so they're coated in a little of the sauce.
- Divide between plates and top with a sprinkling of parmesan and a little fresh parsley or basil.
Can I make them ahead?You can make the meatballs and sauce ahead of time, but I'd recommend cooking the spaghetti and mixing with the meatballs and sauce right before serving. Place the meatballs and sauce together in a covered container and refrigerate for up to two days. Take out of the refrigerator about an hour before reheating to take the chill off the meatballs. Reheat in a pan with a lid over a low heat for 15-20 minutes, until piping hot throughout. You may need to add a splash of boiling water (or even better, cooking water from your pasta) to loosen the sauce a little. Mix with the cooked pasta before serving.
Can I freeze them?Yes, as per the make ahead instructions above, you can make the meatballs and sauce, then place in a covered container in the freezer. Defrost overnight in the refrigerator, then take out of the refrigerator about an hour before reheating to take the chill off the meatballs. Reheat in a pan with a lid over a low heat for 15-20 minutes, until piping hot throughout. You may need to add a splash of boiling water (or even better, cooking water from your pasta) to loosen the sauce a little. Mix with the cooked pasta before serving.
Type of sausage to useI use medium-sized (around 150g/5.3 oz each) pork sausages. I use plain pork sausages, but you can use flavoured ones if you prefer. Go for good quality sausages if you can.
Minced beefDon't be tempted to go for very low fat minced (ground) beef. The fat in the beef gives the meatballs more flavour and makes them more tender.
Use 20% or 15% fat minced beef. You can get away with 12% fat, but don't go for anything lower. Nutritional Information is per serving - including meatballs, sauce and spaghetti - based on 5 portions. Remove 220 cals per portion if not including the spaghetti.
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