Spaghetti and Meatballs with Tomato Sauce

Serves: 6 – 8

I originally found this recipe in the New York Times and dialled it up over the weekend as a meal for the three boys: doubled the quantity of meatballs, added fresh tomato to the sauce as well as a cup of red wine and a handful of oregano.

It smashed it out of the park.

The sort of dinner kids – and adults – die for on a Saturday night before a movie, popcorn and ice cream.

The meatballs are the cracker here, with handfuls of Parmesan, extra breadcrumbs, eggs and parsley, additions I added and have reflected below.

Slow cook the tomato sauce, throw in the browned meatballs and boom.

This is definitely worth coming home to.

Ingredients

Salt
Freshly ground pepper
4 tbsp olive oil
1 kg beef mince
3 cups, grated Parmesan
1 bunch fresh parsley, chopped
1 breadcrumbs
3 eggs
1 large onion
3 garlic cloves
3 cans crushed tomatoes
2 tomatoes, cored and roughly chopped
3 bay leaves
1 cup red wine
Handful of fresh oregano leaves
500gm spaghetti

Method

  1. Heat the 2 tbsp of the olive oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Sauté the onions for 10 minutes until starting to golden; mince the garlic and add, cooking for a few minutes.
  2. Add the tomatoes, bay leaves and the cup of red wine. Bring to the boil and then slowly simmer until the sauce is thickened; an hour or so.
  3. Meanwhile, combine the mince, 2 cups of the Parmesan (setting aside the remaining cup), the parsley, breadcrumbs, eggs and a good pinch or two of salt and freshly cracked pepper. Gently mix until it is combined.
  4. Shape the meatballs so that they are golfball in size.
  5. Heat the remaining 2 tbsp olive oil in a heavy skillet over a medium heat. Add the meatballs, cooking them on all sides until browned.
  6. Remove the bay leaves from the sauce and add the oregano leaves. Season well with salt and pepper.
  7. Add the meatballs, ensuring that they do not break up. Simmer on a low heat.
  8. Heat water in large sauce pan until boiling and cook the spaghetti until cooked through.
  9. Add the spaghetti to the sauce and meatballs, combining gently.
  10. Serve with plenty of Parmesan cheese on top.

Spaghetti & Meatballs #3

Spaghetti & Meatballs #3

Serves:8 – 10

When we asked Oliver what he wanted to eat for dinner on his 9th birthday, I’d hoped he would say a veritable Greek feast complete with a BBQed leg of lamb, marinated in red wine, lemon juice, oregano and olive oil; or Zha Jiang Mian, a dish otherwise known as Chinese Bolognese with a touch of salt or sweet.

Or a burger he had never tried, a salmon Wellington, a bowl of coco pops, a more interesting take on meatballs.

Anything… but spaghetti and meatballs.

Because it isn’t that I don’t love a good spaghetti and meatballs.

It is just that this is the third recipe I have typed up on account of spaghetti and meatballs being his favourite dish. And on account that I am always wanting to try new recipes.

Dilemma, though the kid wants meatballs, then meatballs he will have.

This is another great recipe, tried and tested on Oliver and his brother Thomas who gave it a glowing review. They prefer shaved cheddar to Parmesan and hold the parsley, though otherwise, this hit the birthday-dinner spot and is definitely a comfort-food, no-friends-lost dinner you should try.

Plenty of time for lobster tet-a-tet on the weekend I guess. When it is meatballs time, best do them right.

Ingredients

Meatballs

8 good-quality pork sausages
1 kg beef mince
1 onion, finely chopped
½ a large bunch flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
85gm Parmesan, grated
100gm fresh breadcrumbs
2 eggs, beaten with a fork

Olive oil
Spaghetto to serve

Sauce

3 tbsp olive oil
4 garlic cloves, crushed
4 x 400gm cans chopped tomato
125ml red wine
3 tbsp caster sugar
½ a large bunch flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
A few basil leaves

Method

Meatballs

  1. Heat the oven to 200c.
  2. Split the sausage skins and squeeze out the meat into a large bowl. Add the mince, onion, parsley, Parmesan, breadcrumbs, beaten eggs and season well. Mix together well.
  3. Roll the mince mixture into golf-balls. Line a baking tray with baking paper and spread out the meatballs. Drizzle with a little olive oil, shake to coat and roast for about 20 – 30 minutes until browned.

Sauce

  1. Cook the spaghetti.
  2. Heat the oil in a large sauce pan. Add the garlic and cook for a minute or two.
  3. Stir in the tomatoes, wine, sugar, parsley and season well. Simmer for 20 minutes or more until the sauce is thickened. Stir in the basil leaves.
  4. Spoon the sauce over the spaghetti, combine slowly and add extra Parmesan and basil leaves.

Spaghetti Carbonara

Serves: 4

Almost everyone claims to have an amazing pasta recipe in their repertoire.

Often, this is a Carbonara.

For me, Carbonara is the king of pastas, be it spaghetti, fettucine or farfalle. Indeed, it is very rare for me to go past a Carbonara in an Italian restaurant, especially when I know it will be one of those terrible though amazing cream-based numbers with enough calories to whack an elephant.

This recipe – originally from my mother – is one I have been cooking since I was a teenager. In fact, for as long as I can remember cooking, I have been doing this number.

It is perfect after a long day at the beach or shopping. Bottle of wine, something on TV and you will be in absolute heaven.

Ingredients

9 slices bacon, trimmed and julienned
6 tablespoons olive oil
5 tablespoons butter
½ c julienned ham or prosciutto
12 tbsp grated parmesan + extra to sprinkle
6 eggs, beaten
Salt and pepper
Spaghetti or other pasta

Method

  1. Cook the pasta.
  2. Brown the bacon and pour off any fat. Add the olive oil, butter and ham and sauté for 5 minutes without browning.
  3. Remove from the heat and stir in the parmesan and beaten eggs. Place over heat only sufficiently to firm up the sauce.
  4. Season with salt and pepper and pour over spaghetti.
  5. No regrets.

Donna Hay’s classic spaghetti and meatballs

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Yes, they are not cooked at this point.

Serves: 4 – 6

Nat and I don’t have nearly as many long, liquid lunches as we would like to.

But on occasions, the stars align and there we are, contemplating a third dessert whilst working our way through the cheese plate and a fancy red of some description.

Cooking and eating pasta is also about a rare as these long lunch occasions.

And that’s because the two are linked.

For you should only eat pasta when nothing else will do.

And nothing else will do than pasta after a long lunch and a few bottles of vino.

And so here we were, a long lunch at Gowings completed and ready for our pasta hit.

Enjoy this one. It is everything you’ll want and nothing you won’t. Just make sure you make it in advance like I did.

Ingredients

1½ c fresh white breadcrumbs
½ c milk
500g veal (or beef) mince
500g pork mince
2 eggs
3 cloves garlic, crushed
½ c sage leaves, finely chopped
Sea salt and cracked black pepper
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 brown onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, extra, crushed
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 c (250ml) beef stock
2 x 400g cans chopped tomatoes
¼ c thyme leaves, chopped
500g spaghetti
1 c basil leaves
Finely grated parmesan, to serve

Method

  1. Place the breadcrumbs and milk in a large bowl and mix well to combine. Set aside for 5 minutes or until the milk is absorbed.
  2. Add the beef and pork mince, eggs, garlic, sage, salt and pepper and mix well to combine. Using wet hands, roll tablespoons of the mixture into balls.
  3. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a deep, large frying pan over high heat. Cook the meatballs in batches, turning frequently, for 4–5 minutes or until browned. Remove from the pan and set aside.
  4. Reduce the heat to medium, add the remaining oil, onion and garlic to the pan and cook for 5–7 minutes or until lightly golden. Add the tomato paste and balsamic vinegar, stir to combine and cook for 1 minute. Add the stock, tomatoes, thyme, salt and pepper, stir to combine and bring to the boil.
  5. Add the meatballs and simmer for 15–20 minutes or until the sauce is reduced and the meatballs are cooked through.
  6. While the meatballs are cooking, place the spaghetti in a large saucepan of salted boiling water and cook for 8–10 minutes or until al dente.
  7. Drain and serve the spaghetti topped with the meatballs, basil leaves and parmesan.

Spaghetti di Farro con Luganega (Spelt Spaghetti with Sausage Sauce)

This is an Antonio Carluccio dish and it is a cracker; Nat and I picked up the book in the Prahan Markets when we went down to Melbourne for a weekend. Carluccio is a bit of a hero to me and a real father of Italian food.

This dish is rich, warm and rustic and really pretty straightforward to make. The sauce can be pre-made and even frozen for emergency dinners.

Ingredients

350g dried spelt spaghetti pasta
Salt and pepper to taste
60g pecorino cheese, freshly grated

Sauce

30g dried porcini, rehydrated
3 tbsp olive oil
50g unsalted butter
1 small onion, peeled and finely chopped
½ fresh hot red chilli, finely chopped
250g Italian sausage, meat removed from the skin and crumbled
100ml white wine
2 tbsp tomato paste, diluted in 2 tbsp water
1 tbsp fresh rosemary needles

Instructions

  1. Soak the dried porcini for the sauce in hot water for 20 minutes, then drain, reserving the soaking water and chop.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan with the butter and fry the onion and chilli briefly.
  3. Add the crumbled sausage meat and porcini and fry and stir for another 8 – 10 minutes on a low heat.
  4. Add the wine and then cook for a further 2 minutes until the alcohol has evaporated.
  5. Add the tomato and rosemary and cook for another 10 minutes on a low heat.
  6. Season with salt and pepper to taste and if more moisture is needed, add some of the porcini soaking water.
  7. Meanwhile, cook the paste until al dente. Drain week.
  8. Mix with the sauce, serve and sprinkle with the cheese.