Life’s a Feast: Mozzarella meatballs with tomato sauce

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It’s a simple fact of life – people love meatballs. They are easy to make, affordable and pack so much into one little flavour bomb! You can arm this mince-based meal with a huge variety of flavours and ingredients, to transform the mundane into a taste sensation. They are very economical per kilogram, and other ingredients can be used to pack out the meat to make it stretch further. I have added an indulgence of mozzarella, which will result in a delicious gooey surprise for your family and friends to bite into. These delectable little balls of goodness are something the whole family will enjoy!

Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 20 mins
Serves: 5 people

Ingredients

Meatballs

500g free-range pork mince
70g panko breadcrumbs (or two pieces of old bread blended in food processor)
90ml milk
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 good handful chopped flat leaf parsley
4-5 tablespoons grated parmesan
1/4 teaspoon ground fennel (optional)
Zest half a lemon
24 mini fresh mozzarella balls (or about 200g mozzarella)

Tomato sauce

2 cans of chopped tomatoes
4 anchovy fillets, finely chopped
1 onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon dried basil (use fresh if you have it)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon sugar
Salt and pepper to taste

Method

1.Soak the breadcrumbs in the milk for five minutes.

2.In a large bowl, combine the mince, parmesan cheese, parsley, fennel, lemon zest and soaked breadcrumbs. Combine thoroughly. Season with salt and pepper.

3.Next make your tomato sauce. Heat olive oil in a pot. Add onion and cook for about 3-4 minutes until softened. Add garlic and anchovies and cook for a further 2 mins.

4.Add tomato and dried basil (if using fresh, add at the end) and vinegar and simmer for around 15 mins. Season with salt and pepper.

5.While this is simmering, roll your meatballs. Split the meat mixture into about 20-24 meatballs. If not using the mozzarella balls, chop the large mozzarella into squares to match the number of meatballs you want to roll.

6.Flatten each meatball in one hand, add a cube of mozzarella (or a ball) and shape it so the mozzarella is sealed inside each one. You can vary the size – I tend to make bite-size pieces for the kids.

7.Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a medium heat and cook meatballs in batches of about 8-10 for 4-5 mins until golden. Repeat until all are browned.

8.Pop them all back into the pan and pour over your sauce. Simmer for 6-7 mins while you cook your spaghetti. This ensures the mozzarella melts in the centre.

9.Cook spaghetti according to the packet. Drain and divide evenly between the bowls. I then tend to spoon a bit of the tomato mix into each bowl and mix it through the spaghetti so everyone’s is covered in sauce. Next evenly spoon over meatballs and remaining sauce. Garnish with a little parmesan and parsley if you choose to. Enjoy!