Rich Tomato Italian Meatballs with Linguine

If I was to name one recipe that is ideal food therapy, it's this. There is something extremely relaxing about rolling the meat into little balls and plopping them into a boiling, rich, tomato sauce. I rely solely on the heat of the sauce to cook and infuse the balls with flavour and I love to serve the dish on a big platter with serving spoons, so that people can dig in at the table.

Ingredients


  • 500g (1lb 2oz) sausage meat
  • 100g (3½oz) breadcrumbs
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 2 tblsp tomato ketchup
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 300g (11oz) good-quality linguine
  • sea salt and ground black pepper
  • For the Tomato Sauce
  • 1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 tblsp olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 tsp tabasco sauce
  • 2 x 400g (14oz) tins of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 0.50 glass red wine (about 150ml/5fl oz)

Method

  1. Place the sausage meat, breadcrumbs, garlic, mustard, ketchup and oregano in a large bowl with a good pinch of salt and pepper. Thoroughly mix everything together with a fork.
  2. Wear plastic gloves or dip your hands in a bowl of cold water, then take about a teaspoonful of the mixture and roll with your hands into a small ball. (It's better to make the balls smaller as they will cook quicker and are a lot easier to eat.) Work your way through the mixture, setting the balls on a large baking tray. Place in the fridge to firm up.
  3. To make the tomato sauce, heat a large saucepan over a medium–high heat, add the olive oil and fry the onion for 3 minutes, then add the garlic and fry for 1 minute. Add the tinned tomatoes, Tabasco, oregano and red wine and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and allow to simmer for about 15 minutes or until the sauce has reduced, skimming off any oil as necessary. Season to taste with sea salt and ground black pepper.
  4. Add the firmed-up meatballs to the saucepan, making sure they are covered by the sauce – this keeps the meat lovely and tender. Bring the sauce back to the boil and simmer for another 15 minutes.
  5. Serve with the linguine, cooked according to the packet instructions, and there'll be clean plates all around!




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