All over the world each country makes their claim to own the infamous meatball ! Growing up in Ireland my mother always made us dishes with ground beef, pork and even chicken and I loved the idea that you could immerse these little bundles of joy with various sauces and spices to make completely different dishes. Tonight I decided to make a Mediterranean Italian spicy spin on a recipe my mother taught me ! Through the centuries, meatballs became so commonplace in Italy that Pellegrino Artusi (1820 - 1911) was inspired to write over a meatball recipe - "Do not think for a moment that I would be so pretentious as to tell you how to make meatballs this is a dish that everyone knows how to make, including absolute donkeys Indeed it was probably the donkey who first suggested the basic shape of the meatball to humans. My sole intention is to tell you how to prepare them when you have leftover boiled meat."
I have tried to take that quote and prepare a simple dish with the richest tomato vegetable sauce ! The traditional recipe had white wine, breadcrumbs and milk. I have removed those from this because I really wanted it as healthy as possible. I added in Mushrooms, Courgette and extra garlic instead !!
Ingredients for the Meatballs
- minced beef. Really seek out a good butcher, the more juices and oil that seep out the more fat is ground into the meat so aim to get as lean as possible
- 2 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
- 1/2 red onion, REALLY finely diced
- 2-3 cloves garlic, chopped
Ingredients for the Marinara Sauce
- 2 tins chopped tomatoes
- 1/2 red onion, finely diced
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 green chilli, finely diced
- As many pitted green olives as you want, drained
- Small bunch basil
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and Olive oil
1) While preparing put your oven around 350
2) How to prepare Marinara
- Lightly fry the onion, garlic and chilli for 2-3 minutes until soft. Add the courgette and cook for 2 additional minutes
- Cook the mushroom in a small frying pan alone as you want to sweat out all the water/juice. Once cooked add to the other pan with the other ingredients
- Add the tomatoes along with the basil and finally the olives. Simmer for 5-10 minutes. Then pour the mixture into a baking dish
3) On to the meatballs
- While the tomato sauce is cooking, make up the meatballs. To the mince add parmesan, garlic. Season with a little salt and pepper and mix well
- Shape into walnut sized balls and fry in hot olive oil until golden.
- Add the meatballs to the tomato sauce and bake in the oven for 30 minutes
- You can serve with some rice or pasta, I preferred it alone with a little sprinkle of Parmesan on top !