Meatballs in Tomato Sauce

Meatballs in Tomato Sauce

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To serve – 4 to 6
Preparation time – 6 minutes + 30 minutes chilling time
Cooking time – 40 minutes

Can be prepared ahead and cooked the following day.


For the meatballs: 1 large onion, finely chopped 2-3 garlic cloves, crushed 50 g/ 2 oz Parmesan cheese 1 tbsp thyme leaves, chopped ½ tsp paprika 1 small egg, beaten 500 g/ 1 lb 2 oz lean minced beef 2 tbsp olive oil, for frying Salt and freshly ground black pepper For the sauce 1 large onion, chopped 4 garlic cloves, crushed 600 ml/ 1 pint passata 3 tbsp tomato purée 2 tsp caster sugar A dash of hot pepper sauce such as Tabasco or ¼ tsp cayenne pepper 2 tbsp chopped fresh basil leaves


  1. Firstly make the meatballs by putting all the ingredients except the oil in a large bowl, season well with salt and pepper and mix with your damp hands until thoroughly combined. Shape into 24 even-sized balls and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  2. Heat the oil in wide heavy-based frying pan, add the meatballs and fry over a high heat, turning frequently with a fork and spoon, for 8-10 minutes or until just golden brown.
  3. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper.
  4. Secondly make the sauce, return the same pan to the heat, add the onion and garlic and fry over a medium heat for 10 minutes, taking care that the garlic does not burn, then lower the heat, cover with a lid and cook for a further 10 minutes.
  5. Stir in the passata, tomato purée, sugar and hot pepper sauce or cayenne pepper, add 300ml/ 10 fl oz water and season with salt and pepper.
  6. Let the sauce bubble, uncovered, for 10 minutes until slightly reduced, then add the meatballs and half of the chopped basil.
  7. Cover again with the lid and simmer for 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the meatballs are cooked through.
  8. Serve piping hot on spaghetti or pasta of choice stirring the sauce through the pasta and sprinkle over the remaining basil.

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