Was there ever such classic dishes as spaghetti and meatballs and spaghetti bolognese?
Such dishes have graced household tables all over the world and the recipes for each are as diverse as the countries they appear in.
There is probably an official recipe for both dishes but as usual I’ve concocted a recipe that appeals to me and my family and it’s become our official recipe for many years.
This recipe is a good use of mince which is often an affordable way of getting protein and iron in your diet.
The cost of mince varies depending on the fat content of the beef but this recipe works just as well with regular beef mince as it does with extra lean.
Personally, I prefer the beefy taste of the regular mince which carries through when paired with this punchy tomato sauce.
The sauce has a lot of bold flavours in it which come from canned tomatoes, onions, garlic, basil and oregano. Sugar adds balance to the acidity and butter adds richness.
I usually ladle the sauce over a bowl of cooked spaghetti pasta topped with meatballs and sprinkle the whole thing with parmesan and parsley flakes.
*If I’m cooking this as a “bolognese”, I fry the mince with the onions for the sauce and when the meat has lost its pinkness, I continue the recipe as usual.
Let it be said that I am well aware this isn’t a “true” Bolognese recipe, it’s just what I call it. I suppose you could also call it spaghetti with meaty tomato sauce but it doesn’t sound as nice.
This is quicker and easier than making the meatballs because you eliminate a few of the ingredients and the making of the meatballs themselves but each to their own.
My kids prefer meatballs so when I have the time (and the ingredients) I do go to the effort.
It’s one of the few dishes I can be sure my whole family will eat.
It’s brilliant with a serving of homemade garlic bread.
Spaghetti and Meatballs recipe
- 500g regular beef mince
- ¼ cup breadcrumbs
- 2 tbsp thickened cream
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp dried parsley
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- Salt and pepper
- 2 tbsp olive oil for frying
- 1/2 cup water
For tomato sauce:
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- ½ medium brown onion, chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, sliced or 2 tsp minced garlic
- 2 tsp tomato paste
- 1 x 420g can diced tomatoes
- 2 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tbsp basil pesto
- ½ tsp cayenne pepper or chilli flakes (optional)
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 50g butter
- Salt and pepper to taste
- ½ packet of dried spaghetti pasta
- Dried parsley flakes
- Grated parmesan cheese
Make the meatballs –
Put breadcrumbs in a large bowl and pour the thickened cream over it.
Stir the cream and crumbs together and allow to sit for a few minutes.
Add the mince and remaining ingredients to the bowl then mix it all together with your hands (you may want to use gloves).
Wet your hands and roll the mince mixture into balls of your desired size. I usually use a ¼ cup size amount for each meatball.
In a large frying pan heat the olive oil and fry the meatballs in a single layer for approximately 2 minutes on all sides.
When the meatballs are browned, lower the heat, add the water and cover with a lid.
Simmer the meatballs for approx. 5 – 10 minutes until completely cooked through.
Set meatballs aside and cover with foil to keep warm.
At this point, start cooking the spaghetti pasta according to packet instructions.
For the sauce –
In a heavy based saucepan heat 1 tbsp olive oil and fry the onions until soft and then add the garlic and saute for another minute.
Add the tomato paste, oregano and chilli (if using) and cook for a further minute until fragrant but being careful not to burn the mixture.
Add the diced tomatoes and stir.
Add the basil pesto and sugar and stir through the sauce.
Simmer for approx. 5 – 7 minutes then reduce the heat and add the butter, stirring until the butter has completely melted.
Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Portion the cooked spaghetti into bowls topped with 2-3 meatballs each and covered with a ladleful of tomato sauce.
Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and parsley flakes.