Herb Meatballs with Simple Tomato Sauce

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Hi there, as I look out of the window I can see it’s ‘Cloudy – with more than a chance of Meatballs, for dinner!’ I know, very bad joke but I couldn’t resist.  The same way I couldn’t resist making Meatballs today after seeing someone cook them on TV yesterday!!!

Yummy, bites sized herb meatballs in a simple tomato sauce.
Yummy, bites sized herb meatballs in a simple tomato sauce.

I haven’t a clue which, if any, recipe they were following, these Herb Meatballs in a super Simple Tomato Sauce are my own creation!  Let’s hope they are a hit with the family, when served with spaghetti later?  Oh who am I kidding?  Hunger default status is always STARVING with our family when Meatballs are on the menu!!

I’ve used a combination of beef mince and pork sausage meat for these little Meatballs.  I have made them using all beef, but I find them a bit heavy (even using breadcrumbs & egg to lighten them).  I’ve also made Turkey meatballs, but that’s a whole kettle of fish ( not that they contain fish!)!!!!!

Just a quick note : There is a bit of prep work involved in making these meatballs, but the tomato sauce is so quick it really takes no longer than making a bolognaise sauce and the meatballs really do make a delicious change – so I think it’s worth it?  If you try this recipe I’d love to know how get on?


Recipe : This serves 6-8 hungry people!

For the Meatballs

1  Large Onion

1 tbsp  Olive Oil

1 1/2lb  (750g)Beef Mince (pref. less than 10% fat content)

1lb  (500g) Pork Sausage meat

1  Large Garlic Clove

2  Fresh Sage Leaves (1/4tsp dried sage)

3  Fresh Thyme Sprigs (1/4tsp dried thyme)

1tsp  Sea salt (1/2tsp free flowing salt)

1 tsp  Freshly Ground Black Pepper

For the Simple Tomato Sauce

2 x 400g Tinned Chopped Tomatoes

2tbsp  Tomato Puree

2  Sprigs Fresh Thyme (1/4tsp dried thyme)

1/2tsp  Sugar

1/2tsp  Sea salt (1/4tsp free flowing salt)

1/2tsp  Freshly Ground Black Pepper


Method : Making the Meatballs

Chop up the onion as finely as possible.  Add the oil to a frying pan and sauté over a low-medium heat for 5-10 minutes until the onion is soft and translucent, but not browned.

Sautéed onions, ready to cool down.
Sautéed onions, ready to cool down.

Set the pan aside and allow the onions to cool down.  Place the minced beef, sausage meat, cooled onion, salt, pepper, minced garlic and freshly chopped (or dried) herbs.

All the meatball ingredients in the bowl together!
All the meatball ingredients in the bowl together!

Using a fork, gently combine all the ingredients together.  I’ve found, if I squish them together using my hand (I like squishing, it’s fun – so if I could, I would!!!!) the meatballs end up too dense.

Using a fork to gently combine all the meatball ingredients.
Using a fork to gently combine all the meatball ingredients.

Next, scoop about a teaspoonful of mixture and lightly roll into a ball in between your hands – wet hands make the job easier!  Continue until all of the meatball mixture is used up – I managed 54 meatballs!!

Not perfect spheres but they'll taste just fine, once cooked!
Not perfect spheres but they’ll taste just fine, once cooked!

Heat the pan that you used for sautéing the onions on a medium heat – I didn’t add any more oil, but feel free if yours isn’t non stick.  Add the meatballs so they only form one layer in the pan (overcrowding the pan means the meatballs won’t have contact with direct heat and won’t brown properly). Leave them for 1-2 minutes and then gently turn, repeating the process until the meatballs are nicely browned all over (as they were so small I found it easier to turn them in the pan using 2 desert spoons instead of tongs). Remove from the pan and place on a clean plate.


Making the Simple Tomato Sauce

Using the same pan as before, discard any remaining oil safely – it will be hot so allow to cool and wipe the pan with a handful of kitchen roll.  Now add 2 tins of chopped tomatoes, refilling each tin, roughly halfway with water, swill around to catch every bit of juice a pour into the pan.  Add the tomato purée, herbs, sugar,salt and pepper.  Bring to a  simmer and leave to bubble away gently for 30-40 minute.  The Simple Tomato Sauce is done!!

Super easy, super simple tomato sauce.
Super easy, super simple tomato sauce.

Place the meatballs in a large, ovenproof dish and pour over the tomato sauce.  Heat through for 30-40 minutes, until piping hot and then serve with pasta, rice, crusty bread or even a salad!!

Yummy, bites sized herb meatballs in a simple tomato sauce.
Yummy, bites sized herb meatballs in a simple tomato sauce.

This can easily be a GLUTEN AND DAIRY FREE dish if you use sausage meat – without rusk or wheat added (I buy mine from www.graigfarmirgaincs), as no breadcrumbs or egg are added to the meatball mixture.

A delicious dish that everyone (well not vegetarians I guess) that can be shared and feasted on by friends and family!

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