This is one of the dishes that I grew up with, not in this form, the original was a Jamie Oliver recipe, but I have redeveloped it to make it my own. Changing it to suit our tastes and to get the sauce to incorporate a few extra vegetables.
Ingredients – meatballs
500g minced beef
1/2 a red onion (finely diced)
1 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp dried oregano
salt and pepper
Ingredients – tomato sauce
3 tbp olive oil
2 peppers (red or yellow work best)
6 cloves of garlic
1 tin of tomatoes
1 glass of red wine
2 tbsp dried basil
2 tbsp dried oregano
3 tbsp tomato puree
1/2 tsp sugar
Dash of balsamic or red wine vinegar
salt and pepper
1 ball of mozzarella (sliced)
large handful of fresh basil (torn)
To make the tomato sauce
Roughly chop the onion, peppers and courgettes
Peel garlic and roughly chop
Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over a medium heat
Add onion, peppers, courgettes and garlic to the oil if it sizzles a lot turn it down, we want to soften the veg without adding too much colour.
Once the veg is soft (takes about 30 minutes) add the tomatoes, the basil, the oregano and the wine. Simmer for another 30 minutes.
Add the sugar, the tomato puree, the vinegar and simmer for another 10 minutes.
We now need to make this into a sauce. I use a stick blender, but you could use a jug blender or a food processor. Be careful if it is still very hot.
Once smooth add a little water if it seems too thick, we want a thick soup like consistency. Taste and season.
Simmer for about another hour, longer if you have the time. Keep checking for flavour and add water as necessary so it does not get too thick.
To make the meatballs
Fry the red onion until soft and let it cool
Mix the onion with the beef
Add the herbs and spices
Season with salt and pepper
Shape into 8 balls
Fry the balls until browned all over
Place in a large oven-proof casserole pot
Pre-heat the oven to 180c (fan)
Cover the meatballs with the sauce
Add the basil, poking the leaves into the sauce
Top with the slices of mozzarella
Put the lid on the casserole (cover with foil if it does not have one) cook in the oven for 40 minutes taking the lid off for the last 10 so the cheese browns a little.
To serve: Serve over your favourite pasta.
Suggested sides: Garlic bread, green salad or a green bean salad