Food is a big thing in my family. It’s the glue that brings us together when we are all distracted and busy with everyday life, so needless to say, I was delighted to be asked to take part in the #wrenfamilyfavourites campaign.
For as long as I can remember home cooking has played a massive part at dinner times. My nan has been the influencer of this and has always made an effort to teach us her secret recipes. Spaghetti and meatballs is a firm family favourite. This recipe has been in the family for generations and has travelled from continent to continent.
A long story, short:
This recipe originally came from my great-grandma Juliano who was born and raised in Italy – eventually immigrating to America to start her family. My granddad met my nan in England, they married, had my mum and went to live in the Bronx, New York – the ‘then’ home of many New York Italians.
My nan learnt many recipes from her Italian mother-in-law and brought all of them back to England, now shared with me.
It’s amazing to think how far family traditions can extend and this meatball recipe is one of them. It’s funny because my nan usually makes this in addition to a huge Lasagne and Garlic Bread… and yes, we eat it all!
The beauty of home cooking is that it can be healthy, lean meats and fresh ingredients are key in this dish.
- 500g lean beef mince
- 250g lean pork mince
- 50g parmesan cheese or Grana Padano
- 2 slices of bread for breadcrumbs
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- 1 onion
- 1 egg
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 1 tablespoon of oregano
- Fresh basil
- 1 punnet of baby plum tomatoes
- 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
- 1 small carton of tomato passata
- 1 small teaspoon of sugar
- Salt and pepper
- Spaghetti or linguini
- Blitz the bread to create breadcrumbs and finely chop the onion and 2 cloves of garlic
- In a large bowl, mix the pork and beef mince (I mix with my hands)
- Add the Grana Padano/parmesan cheese, the chopped garlic, breadcrumbs and half of the chopped onion.
- Add 1 egg to the bowl, season with salt and pepper and mix the mixture again.
- You should feel it starting to come together now, this is when you can start creating the meatballs.
6. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan, and fry the meatballs in two batches. Turn for 5-10 minutes until golden brown.
7. Grab a baking tray and carefully place the meatballs on to here and then fry the second batch.
8. Heat the oven at around 180º whilst you’re frying the second batch of meatballs.
9. Once all of the meatballs are on the baking tray, place in the oven for approximately 20 minutes to cook through.
10. Whilst the meatballs are cooking, you can start the fresh tomato passata.
11. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large saucepan, and add the remainder of chopped onion, the punnet of plum tomatoes, garlic, oregano and cook down for 5-10 minutes.
12. The tomatoes should start softening now, I actually gently crush mine with a potato masher to avoid harsh lumps.
13. Add the tin of chopped tomatoes and sugar. Cook for a further 5 minutes.
14. Season the sauce with a little salt and pepper and some chopped fresh basil (to your own taste)
15. Remove the meatballs from the oven and carefully add to the tomato sauce.
16. Carefully stir in the meatballs and leave on a low heat.
17. Bring some water to the boil and add the spaghetti, again, cooking the pasta to your preferred taste. I usually cook it for around 15 minutes – not too soggy!
18. When ready, drain the pasta and plate up…
19. Bon appetite!
Like true Italiano’s we enjoy our pasta with a glass of wine.