Sunday 13 October 2019

Homemade Spaghetti and Meatballs with Garlic Bread

The pasta is not homemade, because I have not managed to ascended to that level of home cook. Atop my fridge sits a pasta maker, that I sincerely wanted two years ago, which has very sadly not yet left its box. Anyway....

I made this meal for friends coming over, and it turned out to be a great one for hosting. The garlic bread and pasta can be put to cook just before they arrive, or held onto if they're running late. The sauce and meatballs just need to be left in a warm pan to heat through once everything is nearly ready.

I've recently become addicted to early Nigella Lawson videos on youtube (you're welcome) and she said something very wise about how people often mistake cooking that takes time for cooking that's hard work. This is a great example of that, as nothing about it is very challenging, except deciding to dedicate a few hours to something you're going to really enjoy eating.

Read on to learn how to make meatballs and sauce from scratch and garlic bread out of any pre made loaf!!

PS: You don't even need the spaghetti. These meatballs on top of slices of garlic bread would be DIVINE, and we very much considered it.

Base recipe via "Healthy Healing Food For Your Family" by Jane Clarke

450g pork or beef mince
1 small red onion FINELY diced
2 tbsp chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
1 large minced garlic clove
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp black pepper
50g breadcrumbs (I use boxed)
1 egg, whisked
25g grated parmesan

Note: Traditionally these would be beef mince, but pork mince is a lovely alternative, which is what I used. The onion does cause a bit of havoc in the ball making process, especially if you don't chop them finely enough. You could put them in a food processor, but that's extra washing up for one step. The parsley needs to be fresh, but the other herbs are good dried.

This recipe makes about 24 meatballs, and I would serve 5 per adult. Extra meatballs can be frozen while raw, and thawed out before frying. Try to lay them in the freezer bag so they don't stick together.

1 can of chopped tomatoes
1 can of plum tomatoes
250ml chicken stock
2 tbsp chopped fresh basil*
2 tbsp chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
1 tsp honey
Salt and pepper to taste
2 minced garlic cloves
Spaghetti per person

Note: For the tomatoes, either use one tin of each, or two of either of them. I just like to mix them in case I'm missing out on the benefits one of them gives...? Plum tomatoes are sweeter, but chopped tomatoes give good bulk. I know buying two packets of fresh herbs seems like a faff, so if you opt for one, make it parsley. You can add even more of the fresh herbs to taste, if you like! They would look great on top when plated.

One fresh loaf of crusty bread
150g+ salted butter
1tbsp olive oil
5 minced garlic cloves
2 tbsp chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
Extra salt

Note: the quantity of butter will depend on the size of the loaf of bread. It's worth making too much than too little - you can go all in and drown the loaf, or keep the excess in a ramekin in the fridge to top vegetables.

Time efficient option: make the meatballs first, leave in the fridge, cook the sauce until nearly reduced (35 minutes+), cook the meatballs within the sauce (for 25 minutes+) OR in a separate pan to brown then add to the sauce, then make the garlic bread and pasta while the meatballs and sauce simmer.

What I did: make the meatballs, leave in the fridge for an hour, fry to brown, remove from the pan, cook the sauce (40 mins), add the meatballs back into the sauce, make the garlic bread and pasta while the meatballs and sauce simmer.

Mix everything together with a wooden spoon, ensuring the mince is broken up well. Oil a large plate. Using a tablespoon measurement, scoop 1 tbsp of mixture and form into a ball with your hands. Press together so that the balls are as structurally sound as possible. Beware the pesky onion pieces - this is why they're minced small. Place all of the meatballs on the plate, cover with clingfilm and leave to rest in the fridge for 30 minutes to an hour. I know!! Annoying!! But this helps them not break apart when you cook them.

Oil a frying pan well on a medium heat and place the meatballs in to fry. Leave them to cook without moving them around, and when you see them browning on the base, turn them. Once both sides have browned (they won't be fully cooked) remove them from the pan and leave to the side on a plate. It can be the previous raw meat plate as they're going to be thoroughly reheated anyway.

Fry the garlic in some oil and scoop the meatball remains from the base of the pan. Then add the chopped tomatoes, breaking apart the plum tomatoes with your spoon (or clean hand, but be careful of shooting tomato juices), and stir in all the other ingredients. Simmer for about 40 minutes on a low heat until the sauce has reduced nicely. Pop in the meatballs and leave to heat through.

Pre heat the oven to 200C. Melt the butter and oil in a saucepan over a low heat and stir in the crushed garlic. Simmer for 2-3 minutes, ensuring nothing burns. Stir in the parsley and remove from the heat. Slice the bread into 15mm pieces, without cutting fully through the bottom, so that the loaf stays in one piece but can be teared off later. Wrap the base in foil to catch the garlic butter and place on a baking tray. Brush a teaspoon of garlic butter between each slice, until each segment is nicely saturated. Brush the remaining butter all over the top and sides of the loaf. Top with cracked salt. Bake in the oven until crisp on top - 10-15 mins. PS if you don't have one of these brushes, use a teaspoon and your fingers. Or pop the butter in the fridge to cool and spread it on with a knife.

Add the pasta to boiling water while the garlic bread cooks.

The meatballs and sauce can sit on a low heat for as long as you need to cook the pasta, vegetables of your choice, and garlic bread. I steamed a bag of prepared spring greens.

Top with parmesan or cheddar, sprinkle on some more fresh herbs and YUM!

Enjoy your night,


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