Meatballs can sometimes be surprisingly difficult to make. I’ve taken a stab at them multiple times, but the success rate has been less than one in two—usually they end up falling apart, getting burned or not cooking through, and get turned into a different sort of pasta / mince dish that, while yummy, wasn’t the intended spaghetti & meatballs.
And then swoops in Jamie Oliver’s Ministry of Food to save the day! A basic, easy, and surefire recipe for that spaghetti & meatballs dish you were craving. Definitely keep this recipe in your cookbook for company, or for Sunday night comfort food with leftovers for Monday’s work lunch.
Surefire Spaghetti & Meatballs
Cooking time: 30-40 minutes
- For the meatballs:
- 500 g (1 1/2 lbs) minced beef or pork (or a combination)
- 2/3 cup breadcrumbs (or 12 soda crackers, crushed into fine crumbs)
- 1 large egg
- 2 tbsp (and a bit) dijon mustard
- 1 1/2 tsp dried rosemary, ground small in a mortar and pestle (or 4 sprigs fresh, chopped)
- 1 tbsp (and a bit) dried oregano
- salt & pepper to taste
- For the pasta & sauce:
- 400 g spaghetti
- a bunch fresh basil
- 1 brown onion, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 medium tin chopped tomatoes
- 3 tbsp tomato paste
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 tsp sugar
- salt & pepper to taste
- parmesean cheese for topping
To make the meatballs: In a large bowl, add mustard, breadcrumbs, egg, and spices to the minced meat. Mix thoroughly with your hands, squishing it all together until well combined. Divide into 2 large balls, then divide those in half, and in half again, to make about 12 meatballs. Drizzle with olive oil and make sure each is covered evenly. Put on a plate and refrigerate for a minimum of 10 minutes, or until you need them.
To make the sauce: In a large frying pan with a glug of olive oil, gently fry your onion until soft and golden, add garlic and fry for another moment or two. Separate your basil leaves from the stems, and set aside the smaller leaves for serving. Toss in with the onion. (The fresh basil leaves are beautiful, and a must, in this recipe.) Add the tin of chopped tomatoes, tomato paste, balsamic vinegar, sugar, and a pinch of salt and pepper, stir well and allow to simmer very, very gently to reduce some of the liquid. A tablespoon or three of red wine is optional too! At this point, remember to put on a large pot of water and bring to the boil for your pasta.
Heat another large frying pan with another glug of olive oil. (Yep, it’s a Jamie Oliver recipe.) Carefully place your meatballs in, and cook them for about 8-10 minutes until golden and brown all over—open one up to make sure it’s cooked through with no pink inside. Once cooked, add into your tomato sauce until your pasta is cooked.
Once your spaghetti is cooked, drizzle it with about a tablespoon of olive oil and toss, add about half of the sauce into it and toss well to coat. Serve with meatballs and a bit more sauce on top, with the small fresh basil leaves and grated Parmesan. Yum!