Herby Meatballs with Tomato Ragu

A Quick and Easy Supper Recipe for All the Family

When I was 17, I helped organise and cook for a fundraising event at my boarding house at school.  The evening had an Italian theme, as my house mistress absolutely loved all things Italy, and involved feeding and entertaining our poor parents at their further cost.  We prepared antipasti to start followed by homemade meatballs with rice and salad.  I am pretty sure we served tiramisu for dessert whilst we took turns on the stage to sing, dance and generally make fools of ourselves all in the name of charity.  Thank God for the lack of videoing ability on a mobile phone, and social media back then…  That being said, the evening was deemed a success from the monies that were raised by 50 girls prancing around thinking we were the next ‘All Saints’ band member.  Yes, we did.

Luckily for my family and for you, this is a different recipe to the one we served all those years ago in the house common room. The great thing about this delicious recipe is that most of the ingredients are already in your cupboards, fridge and vegetable rack.

Herby meatballs with tomato ragu

Herby Meatballs with Tomato Ragu
Makes 22 meatballs, 2-3 per person depending on the appetite
Prep in 30 minutes, chill in 10 minutes, cooks in 20 minutes

Ingredients and suggested quantities:
For the ragu:
½ red onion
2 red bell pepper, de-seeded
2 carrot, washed but not peeled
1 garlic clove, peeled
1 tsp dried oregano
Olive oil
Splash of Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 can tomato puree
1 can chopped tomatoes

For the meatballs:
¼ red onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
Large handful of mixed fresh chopped herbs – I used mint, tarragon and parsley
1 tsp paprika
Fresh ground black pepper
2 tbsp chopped sun-dried tomatoes
1 tbsp sesame seeds
500g lean pork or turkey mince – I used pork
250g beef mince

Pasta, finely grated parmesan and fresh basil to serve

1.  Cut the onion, peppers, carrots into large chunks then blitz in a blender with the garlic into small pieces
2.  Pour a splash of olive oil into a large pan on a high heat, then chuck in the blitzed veg for a few minutes to sizzle.  Add the herbs, Worcestershire sauce, balsamic, tomato puree and chopped tomatoes.  Stir and allow to simmer on a medium heat whilst you make the meatballs – about 10 minutes.  Whizz with a hand blender until smooth. You might want to loosen with some water if it is a bit thick. Taste and season accordingly
3.  In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients for the meatballs with your hands.  Divide into golf ball sized pieces and roll. Then pop in the freezer for 10 minutes.  Pre-heat oven to 190c

Herby meatballs with tomato ragu
4.  In a large non-stick frying pan on a high heat, drizzle a little oil and then brown the meatballs quickly on each side.  Transfer into an oven proof dish, cover in the tomato ragu and pop in the oven for 20 minutes.  The perfect amount of time to clean up, cook the pasta and set the table!

Sprinkle parmesan and freshly torn basil over the top before serving with pasta.

I froze the raw meatballs that I didn’t want to use straight away and remaining ragu in batches so on a busy day in the future, I know I have something nutritious I can put on the table without cringing, like I did after singing ‘Never Ever’ with my friends back in the day.  Eeek!

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