Find out the secrets to great meatballs with my delicious recipe for pasta with meatballs in tomato sauce.
We love pasta in our house, which is why you’ll see it cropping up on my blog more and more. This pasta with meatballs in tomato sauce is delicious and goes down well every time I make it.
What’s the secret of a good meatball?
Without a doubt the star of this dinner is the meatballs and there are a few things that I think make my meatballs extra yummy…
- Use a mixture of pork and beef – I remember going on holiday to Italy when I was a lot younger and being told that the reason their lasagne tasted so good was that it used both beef and pork mince. I’ve tried just beef and I’d agree that having a mixture definitely adds something to the flavour.
- Season the meatballs – A good pinch of salt really brings out the flavour. Under seasoned and they just taste bland. I use a teaspoon which always seems to make them about right. However, if you’re not sure then season and quickly fry a little bit to taste, then add more seasoning if necessary. Another trick if you’re not too sure about seasoning is to use pork sausage meat instead of pork mince. The pork sausage will already be seasoned which means you don’t really need to add additional salt and you’ll still have a good flavour. They also usually contain herbs so you wouldn’t need to worry about adding oregano either.
- Don’t make the meatballs too big – I make mine about 3cm in diameter (a nice bitesize). If they’re too big then they’ll need longer to cook, meaning that the outside is more likely to be overdone. The other advantage is that you’ll get more of them!
- Don’t overcook the meatballs – Overcooked meatballs will be dry, you want them to be just cooked and still succulent and juicy in the centre.
Serves 4 or serves 8
Using a mix of pork and beef mince is a bit of a pain as it usually comes in 500g packets, meaning I have far too much mince for the four of us for one dinner (this recipe serves 8).
What I generally do is make up enough meatball mix for eight servings and then pop half of it into the freezer uncooked to use another day.
I then cook enough sauce and pasta for 4 people (which would be half the recipe below) to go with it. The sauce also freezes really well, but it’s so unbelievably simple to make that it’s no real effort to make it from scratch when needed (I don’t have a huge freezer so I prefer to fill it with things that really need freezing or if I want to save a lot of time and effort by cooking a big batch).
If you do want to freeze the sauce then I’d recommend removing from the heat about five minutes before the suggested cooking time, when there’s still some liquid left. This liquid will then continue to reduce when you come to reheat the sauce later. If you fully reduce the sauce before freezing there’s a risk it may burn when it comes to reheating (if you have done this then add a tablespoon or two of water before heating).
Please remember to make sure that if you freeze the sauce and/or meatballs that you defrost them thoroughly in the fridge before cooking.
A quick note about breadcrumbs
If you don’t already have one, then I’d really recommend getting a spice grinder for making breadcrumbs (as well as grinding spices obviously). It’s the perfect size for making a small batch of breadcrumbs and a lot less effort to clean than a food processor.
To make the meatball mix I usually blitz the crust of an old loaf in the spice grinder and this gives me just the right amount.
- Large bowl
- Two large saucepans (one for the pasta and one for the tomato sauce)
- Large frying pan
- Something to stir the sauce/meatballs while they’re cooking
Meatballs in tomato sauce nutritional information per serving
This is the estimated nutritional information per serving. Please refer to my guide to Charlotte’s Lively Kitchen nutritional information if you want to learn more about how this is calculated.