Lynn Bain — 31 March 2016

The following recipes make use of meatballs as the hero of the meals. Spaghetti and Meatballs is such a traditional meatball-based recipe and the Meatball Casserole uses the meatball as a different way of adding meat to the meal.

Spaghetti and Meatballs

This is a quick and easy version of spaghetti and meatballs, using packet, tinned and bottled ingredients. Traditionally, this recipe uses spaghetti but you can use whatever type of pasta you have to hand. And if you’re only serving two, the leftovers will freeze well for a future meal.

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 20 minutes

The following quantities will serve four

  • 500g beef mince
  • 2 tbsp roughly chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, finely grated
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup dried breadcrumbs (Panko is ideal)
  • 2 tsp tomato paste
  • 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 600-700ml bottle tomato passata
  • 375g dried pasta
  • Freshly grated parmesan cheese, for serving

In a bowl, combine the beef mince, parsley, garlic, egg, breadcrumbs and tomato paste. Roll tablespoons of the mince mixture into balls. Place the balls on a plate and put to one side while you prepare the sauce.

To make the sauce, tip the tinned tomatoes and passata into a large saucepan, stir well and bring to a gentle simmer. Gently place the meatballs into the sauce (in a single layer) and continue to cook for a further 15 minutes. Turn the meatballs carefully at least once during the cooking process.

While the meatballs are poaching in the sauce, bring a large saucepan of water to the boil and cook the pasta according to the instructions on the packet. At the completion of the cooking time, drain the pasta and divide between individual serving plates.

Spoon some of the meatball sauce over each serving of pasta and top with some grated parmesan cheese.

Meatball Casserole

Using meatballs instead of cubes of meat in this casserole reduces the cooking time. As with the previous recipe, any leftovers from the casserole will freeze well.

Preparation time: 10-15 minutes

Cooking time: 15 minutes

The following quantities will serve four

  • 1 slice bread, crusts removed
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 300g beef mince
  • 2 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley (or 1 tsp dried parsley)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp cooking oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 400g tin baby carrots, drained and then cut into two or three pieces
  • 400g tin baby potatoes, drained and then cut in half
  • 1 cup beef stock
  • A good pinch of chilli flakes
  • 2 cups tomato passata

For the meatballs, tear the bread slice into pieces and then soak in the milk for about five minutes.

In a medium-sized bowl, place the mince, parsley and egg. Squeeze the milk from the soaked bread and mix the bread with the mince mixture. Shape the mixture into 16 meatballs then place the prepared meatballs to one side while you prepare the casserole base.

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat and add the onion and garlic to the pan. Sauté until the onion and garlic have softened and then add the carrots, potato and stock to the pan and stir well. Now add the chilli flakes and tomato passata to the pan and mix together thoroughly.

Add the meatballs carefully to the saucepan and allow them to poach for about 10 minutes or until the meatballs are cooked through. 

Serve the casserole in individual bowls, perhaps with a side of hot buttered toast.


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Lynn Bain