Baked Meatballs in a Rich Tomato Sauce

This recipe for baked meatballs with a rich tomato sauce and oozing mozzarella cheese is a comforting family favourite that will go down well with a hungry crowd, and prepared all in one pan for maximum ease.

From the book

One Pan. 100 Brilliant Meals by
One Pan. 100 Brilliant Meals
Easy meals for weeknights
Fuss-free meal ideas
Cook in one pan - less to wash up!

Introduction

If you are not yet a convert to anchovies, rest assured they add a delicious, subtle, salty richness to a sauce. There are some really good ready-prepared meatballs on the market now, so if short of time just add to the home-made sauce.

Serves 6
Easy
Prep time: 30 min
Cook time: 40 min
Total time: 1 h 10 min

Ingredients

3 tbsp olive oil
3 onions, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, crushed
2 chopped anchovy fillets (optional)
500g (1lb 2oz) beef mince
125g (4½oz) fresh bread crumbs
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 egg
Salt and pepper
For the rich tomato sauce:
3 thyme sprigs
1 x 400g (14oz) can chopped tomatoes
600ml (1 pint) passata
2 tbsp tomato purée
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
250g (9oz) mozzarella, drained and torn

Essential kit

You will need: a deep, oven-proof frying pan.

Instructions

1. For the meatballs: heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large deep frying pan, add the onions and cook gently until softened but not coloured. Add the garlic and anchovy fillets, if using. Increase the heat and cook for a few minutes. Spoon half the onion mix into a large bowl and the other half into a small bowl.

2. When the reserved onions in the large bowl have cooled, add the beef mince, breadcrumbs, oregano and egg with plenty of seasoning. Mix with your hands, then using wet hands shape into 20 meatballs. Heat the remaining oil in the frying pan and brown the meatballs in batches, adding more oil, as you need – the meatballs should be almost cooked through. Spoon the meatballs out of the pan on to a plate.

3. Preheat the oven to 180°C, fan oven 160°C, Gas mark 4.

4. For the rich tomato sauce: wipe the frying pan clean and return the remaining cooked onions to the pan. Add the thyme, tomatoes, passata, tomato purée, brown sugar and red wine vinegar, and bring to a simmer. Bubble for 25 minutes until the sauce has reduced and thickened. Season to taste.

5. Return the meatballs to the pan.

6. Scatter the mozzarella on top. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes, or until the meatballs are piping hot and cooked through, and the cheesey top is golden and bubbling. Serve with a tomato and cucumber salad.

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