Rich tomato meatballs

So the other week I had people round for dinner and I thought meatballs would be a perfect option. It is a sociable meal and people love Italian food! I got out my cook books and found a recipe of Mary Berry’s. Who else is looking forward to the British Bake Off this year?! I have changed the recipe slightly by adding chilli oil and this really worked. This is a good dish to make at a weekend also. Make extra portions to put in the freezer, to have in the week as a healthy “ready meal”. You can even cook the pasta ahead and freeze the complete dish if you are being really lazy. I love this idea when weekday meals need to be simple and quick.

Recipe (serves 4-6)

Meatballs (makes 24 meatballs)

450g minced beef (Waitrose do a really lovely 5% fat mince!)

75g breadcrumbs (you can make your own in the food processor)

75 grated Parmesan cheese

a handful of chopped fresh parsley

2 tsp of dried thyme (or a little handful of fresh thyme)

1 egg, beaten

2 tbsp chilli oil

1 tbsp tomato purée (as the mince is low in fat this adds moisture)

salt and pepper


1 tbsp olive oil

1 onion, finely diced

1 garlic clove, crushed

800g chopped tomatoes

2 tbsp tomato purée

1 tsp light muscovado sugar

For serving

Lettuce with your favourite dressing (Caesar recommended)

75g Spaghetti per person*

Grated Parmesan and chopped parsley to add the perfect finish

*Serve with 75g spaghetti per person (or I love Tesco Finest Bucatini Pasta – similar to spaghetti but it has a hole running through the centre (like a tube), making it fatter and so it is able to get a delicious covering of sauce.



  • Mix all ingredients of the meatballs together in a large bowl. I find it is easier just to get messy and use your hands! Mary Berry says she makes meatballs with her grand children and they have loads of fun. So why not bribe a few little helpers! Form 24 evenly sized balls out of the mixture by rolling them between your two hands. Wet hands also stop the mixture sticking to your hands.

Meatballs raw in bowl

  • Leave the meatballs to chill out in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  • Fry the meatballs in a deep saucepan for about 8-10 minutes or until they are golden brown on all sides. I find that you need to do several batches of the meatballs, as too many in a pan at once can cause them to stick together and then fall apart. Also be careful the meatballs do not stick to the bottom of the pan and cause the oil to get broken meatball pieces in. A helpful piece of equipment is tongs – they are so useful to turn the meatballs with!


Meat balls cooking

  • Make the sauce by first of all frying the onions and garlic until tender for about 10 minutes.
  • Add all the other sauce ingredients to the sauce except the herbs and cook for 10 minutes until reduced slightly.
  • Add the meatballs and herbs and simmer for 10-12 minutes until the meatballs are piping hot.
  • Serve with spaghetti and salad.
  • Sprinkle over some chopped parsley and grate over Parmesan cheese.

Meat balls grated cheese


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