I hardly ever cook a dish more than once when I have guests but there’s one exception: these meatballs in tomato sauce. You could almost call it my “signature dish”; these balls have been served at quite a few birthdays, New Year’s evenings and buffets. I also made them for the street food buffet; to fit the theme I used skewers and served the meatballs with thick slices of fresh bread to dip in the tomato sauce, mmmmm ….
The Dutch “broodje bal”, Spanish albóndigas, Swedish köttbullar, Soprano style spaghetti and meatballs: meatballs are served everywhere around the world! There’s even a restaurant in Belgium called Balls & Glory, they only have meatballs on the menu, all made by hand and with the most delicious stuffing.
Of course you can endlessly vary with the below recipe for meatballs in tomato sauce. I always make them with basil and pine nuts or almond, but what to think of chopped olives or sundried tomato? Create your own “signature” version!
Actually serving these meatballs in tomato sauce is always a success and if not then I definitely don’t mind eating what’s left ;-). I would even suggest making as many as will fit in your largest pan! The meatballs and sauce can easily be kept in your freezer.
To give you an idea: 1kg of meat makes about 45 balls the size of a ping pong ball. Want to serve the meatballs as a main dish, for example with spaghetti? Then use about ½ kg of minced meat for about five meatballs per person (based on 4 people).
Miss Gingerish’ meatballs in tomato sauce
Makes 20-25 pieces
- 100 g almonds or pine nuts
- 500 g minced meat of choice (fattier varieties make for a more juicy ball)
- 2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
- 20 g basil, finely sliced
- 1 egg, beaten
- salt & pepper
- little olive oil
- small knob of butter
For the sauce
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- olive oil
- pinch of chilli flakes
- 1 tsp. brown sugar
- 40 g tomato paste
- 25 ml red wine
- 400 g canned chopped tomatoes
- few sprigs of thyme, leaves picked
- few sprigs of rosemary, needles finely chopped
- salt & pepper
- Start with the sauce: Heat some olive oil in a large (frying) pan over medium heat
- Fry the chopped onion lightly with chili flakes, stir regularly
- Add the sugar and tomato paste, stir and let it bake for a few minutes to de-acidify the tomato
- Pour the red wine into the pan and evaporate
- Add the canned tomatoes along with chopped fresh herbs
- Let the sauce simmer very gently (TIP: blend and sieve after simmering for a delicious homemade basic sauce. Perfect for pizza!)
- For the meatballs we start with the almonds or pine nuts: lightly roast them in a dry pan and chop coarsely. Put in a bowl
- Mix the beef, beaten egg, chopped garlic and basil with the nuts until well blended. TIP: I use a fork, if you knead too hard with (warm) hands you will get less juicy meatballs
- Season with salt and pepper
- Roll balls of minced meat, the size of a ping pong ball
- Melt the butter together with a little olive oil in a frying pan, heat well
- Reduce the heat and place the meatballs in the pan. And now: patience. Sear all meatballs well on each side (do not shake the pan too hard)
- If the meatballs are seared all around drop them into the tomato sauce to cook through. Be careful to stir the sauce so meatballs do not fall apart
- Taste the sauce and season to taste with salt and pepper