If I was to name one recipe that is ideal food therapy, it would be this rich tomato & Italian meatballs pasta. There is something extremely relaxing about rolling the meat into little balls and plopping them into a boiling, rich, tomato sauce. I rely solely on the heat of the sauce to cook and infuse the balls with flavour and I love to serve the dish on a big platter with serving spoons, so that people can dig in at the table.
For the meatballs
250g pork mince
250g beef mince
2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoon tomato ketchup
1 teaspoon dried oregano
300g good-quality linguine
Sea salt and ground black pepper
For the tomato sauce
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped
2 x 400g (14oz) tins of chopped tomatoes
1 tsp Tabasco sauce
1 tsp dried oregano
1⁄2 glass red wine (about 150ml/5fl oz)
Place the sausage meat, breadcrumbs, garlic, mustard, ketchup and oregano in a large bowl with a good pinch of salt and pepper. Thoroughly mix everything together with a fork. Wear plastic gloves or dip your hands in a bowl of cold water, then take about a teaspoonful of the mixture and roll with your hands into a small ball. (It’s better to make the balls smaller as they will cook quicker and are a lot easier to eat.) Work your way through the mixture, setting the balls on a large baking tray. Place in the fridge to firm up.
To make the tomato sauce, heat a large saucepan over a medium–high heat, add the olive oil and fry the onion for 3 minutes, then add the garlic and fry for 1 minute. Add the tinned tomatoes, Tabasco, oregano and red wine and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and allow to simmer for about 15 minutes or until the sauce has reduced, skimming off any oil as necessary. Season to taste with sea salt and ground black pepper. Add the firmed-up meatballs to the saucepan, making sure they are covered by the sauce – this keeps the meat lovely and tender. Bring the sauce back to the boil and simmer for another 15 minutes. Serve with the linguine, cooked according to the packet instructions, and there’ll be clean plates all around!