Pasta and meatballs have got to be one of the most popular family style Italian meals of all time. What I like about this recipe is the tasty tomato and pepper sauce which accompanies it. I have use red and yellow peppers with some chopped parsley, thickened with tomato passata and red wine. Make double quantities of the sauce, so that you can freeze one portion for another time.
The history of meatballs is universal and depending on the way you live, will determine the spice, size and accompaniment you serve them with. For example Tunisian style may include flavours of cumin or coriander served with cous cous where as Persian Koftas, often threaded on to skewers are served with rice and seasoned with turmeric and may include pine nuts.
Preparation Time: 25 minutes
Cooking Time: 40 minutes
Serves: 8 people
Ingredients:For the Meat Balls
900g / 2 pound minced beef
Pinch of nutmeg
2 tablespoons fresh chopped basil or parsley
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
450g Fettuccine fresh or dried
Garnish: 4 tablespoons fresh basil
For the Pepperonata
2- 3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion – peeled and sliced
3 cloves garlic – peeled and finely chopped
4 yellow peppers, cored, seeded and cut into strips lengthways
4 red peppers, cored, seeded and cut into strips lengthways
550g Passata or finely chopped tomatoes
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
100ml red wine
Method1. Put the minced beef in a bowl. Add half of the breadcrumbs and all the remaining ingredients including the salt and pepper. Mix well with a wooden spoon.
2. Using wet hands, divide the mixture into equal portions and roll each into a ball.
3. Put the remaining breadcrumbs on a plate and roll the meatballs in them, a few at a time until they are evenly coated.
4. Flatten the meatballs slightly so that they are about 1 cm thick (size of a golf ball). Chill for about 30 minutes to firm up.
5. Meanwhile, make the pepperonata. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan, add the onion and garlic and cook gently for 3 minutes, stirring frequently until softened.
6. Add the pepper strips and cook for 3 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes or passata, red wine and parsley, salt and pepper. Bring to the boil, stirring. Cover and cook for 25 minutes or until the sauce is thick and reduced. Taste and adjust seasoning.
7. Pour oil into a frying pan to a depth of 2.5 cm. When hot but not smoking, shallow fry the meatballs for 10 minutes, turning them from time to time.
8. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper.
9. Cook the pasta according to the packet instructions. Drain and return to the saucepan. Stir in the hot pepperonata sauce and meatballs.
To serve the stylish way: Spoon a generous helping of meatballs and fettuccine on to a warm plate and garnish with sprigs of basil and a dusting of black pepper.