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.
Meatballs in tomato sauce
- 500 g lean steak mince
- 500 g lean pork mince
- 50 g white breadcrumbs
- 1 egg
- 1 tbsp dried oregano
- Salt - I use 1 tsp
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 4 x 400g cans chopped tomatoes
- 2 tbsp dried oregano
- 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
- 4 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- Salt and pepper
- 8 servings pasta - I use 600g dried tagliatelle
- Optional - grated cheese to serve
- Put the chopped tomatoes (4x 400g cans), dried oregano (2 tbsp), white wine vinegar (2 tbsp) and Worcestershire sauce (4 tbsp) into a large pan and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for approximately 30 minutes until the liquid has reduced. Stir occasionally to ensure that the sauce doesn't burn. Season with salt and pepper.
- Meanwhile bring a separate large pan of salted water to the boil.
- While the water is boiling, make the meatballs. Put the beef mince (500g), pork mince (500g), breadcrumbs (50g), dried oregano (1 tbsp) and egg into a large bowl. Use your hands to thoroughly mix together the ingredients.
- Using your hands, form the meatball mix into balls about 3cm diameter.
- Add your pasta (8 servings/600g dried pasta) to the boiling water and cook according to the packet instructions.
- Meanwhile, heat the olive oil (1 tbsp) in a large frying pan on a medium heat. Add the meatballs and cook for approximately 10 minutes until they are cooked all the way through. Turn/shake the meatballs regularly to ensure they cook evenly.
- Once the pasta, sauce and meatballs are all cooked. Add them all to the same pan and give it all a good stir to ensure everything is coated with the tomato sauce and serve.
Any nutritional information provided is the estimated nutritional information per serving. Please refer to my guide to Charlotte’s Lively Kitchen nutritional information if you would like to learn more about how this is calculated.
Free From/Suitable For…
The ingredients I used to make this recipe are all free from the following allergens. However, please check any labels carefully for allergens you need to avoid as brands can vary and product recipes can change over time.
- Dairy-Free (leave out the cheese when serving or use a dairy-free alternative)
- Tree Nut-Free
- Sulphur Dioxide & Sulphite-Free