Meatballs baked with tomato sauce. Just the thing to dish up for a laid back dinner with the family.
To make the meatballs, mix together:
60g fresh breadcrumbs
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
zest of 1 lemon
45g parmesan, grated
big pinch of nutmeg
Add 2 eggs, lightly beaten, and shape into balls (imagine taking two bites out of each one).
Roll in flour to coat. Refrigerate until needed.
splash olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 stick celery, diced
2 tablespoons red lentils
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tins tomatoes
250ml vegetable stock or water
Heat the olive oil and gently fry the holy trinity – the onions, carrot and celery – until soft.
Add all other ingredients, bring to the boil, then turn down the heat and simmer gently for 20 minutes.
When you’re ready, preheat the oven to 180C. Heat another splosh of olive oil a large pan and fry the meatballs over a medium heat until nicely browned.
Don’t crowd the pan – brown off in two to three batches if need be. No need to cook the meatballs all the way through – they’ll do that in the oven.
Add the sauce, transfer to a casserole dish, cover and bake for 25 minutes.
Serve stirred through spaghetti – and be generous with the grated parmesan and torn flatleaf parsley.
This is enough sauce for four servings, for which I use 500g dried spaghetti.