I love a good meatball dish and so when I started brainstorming ways to make them even more exciting, I knew I would have to give this one a go. Cheesy and gooey in the middle, baked to perfection in a lovely tomato sauce, these really are the ultimate Italian meatballs.
If you don’t want to fiddle on making to meatball yourself you could use shop bought meatballs and use all the mozzarella on top to bake it. If you do have the time I would highly recommend giving these ago. I made up enough meatballs for four people (20 meatballs) and left half (10) uncooked in the fridge for tea the next day.
If you prefer the sauce wet and saucy, use passata, if you like it a bit more dry, use the chopped tomatoes.
Serves 4 = 12sp (previously 12pp) each
For the sauce
1 onion, finely sliced
2 or 3 large cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2 peppers, deseeded and sliced
¼ tsp crushed chillies (1/2 a tsp if you like it spicy)
1 tsp oregano
125ml red wine
2 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes (or large box of passata)
¼ tsp sugar
1 chicken stock cube
1 bay leaf
Basil leaves (optional)
For the meatballs
500g extra lean beef mince (5% fat)
2 sliced of bread, toasted and wizzed into breadcrumbs
50ml red wine
1 tsp oregano and sage
½ tsp rosemary and thyme
Splash of balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp parmesan
125g half fat mozzarella ball
Preheat the oven to 180c.
Begin by making the sauce. Spray a sauce pan with 1kal and fry the onions until they start to soften. Then add the peppers, garlic, crushed chillies and oregano, stir and fry for another few minutes. Add the wine, tomatoes (or passata), stock cube, sugar and bay leaf. Season well with salt and pepper and leave to simmer on a low heat while you make the meatballs.
Pop the breadcrumbs into a large mixing bowl. Add 50ml red wine, stir and leave to absorb for a few minutes. Add the herbs, balsamic vinegar and 1 tbsp parmesan to the bread crumbs and give a stir. Then add the mince and get your hands in there to combine everything nicely. Add the egg and again, combine well. Split the mixture into 20 rough meatball shapes.
Take the mozzarella ball and chop into 1cm square cubes. This will give you more than 20 squares so there will be some left over to bake on top. Then take each meatball in turn, flatten in one hand, pop a cube of mozzarella in the middle and shape the meat around it to seal the cheese. Roll between both hands so you have a nice round shape. Repeat this for all 20 meatballs.
Next take a large oven proof frying pan and, in batches if necessary, spray with 1kal and fry the meatballs until browned on the outside. If you don’t have an oven proof frying pan, once browned pop the meatballs into a large baking dish. Pour the sauce, which should now have reduced slightly to a thicker ragu, over the meatballs.
Pop in the oven for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, top with the mozzarella and bake for another 15 minutes. Pop the spaghetti on when you put the meatballs back in the oven.
Serve the spaghetti topped with the melting meatball sauce. Top with a few basil leaves. When you cut into the meatballs they should be cooked through with cheese oozing out. Delish!