My first post on this blog was a recipe for lemon and herb roasted chicken, a tribute to my husband Jeremy who after a couple of months of living together started showing signs of concern/borderline hysteria over the great number of meat-free meals we were consuming.
You see, he grew up in a house where a meat or fish based dinner was a nightly event and thus he finds it pretty hard to get excited about a lentil pilaf.
One memorable example of this was the time I made an orzo, eggplant and mozzarella pasta bake for dinner (click here for the recipe). I was pretty pleased with the results and was about to serve up when Jeremy walked into the kitchen. He also thought it looked rather good and asked what we were having with it; translation = where is my meat, woman?
But to be fair to the guy I do see his point. After having a quick look through my archives I realised that the lemon and herb chicken was the one and only meat or fish recipe I have posted since I started this blog over four months ago.
So, to redeem myself I am offering up a recipe for what I can guarantee are some really tasty meatballs bobbing away in a rich roasted pepper and tomato sauce.
Serve these babies with the your carb of choice. When I have lots of hungry mouths to feed, I often load up a big help-yourself-kind-of-platter with a mix of brown basmati and wild rice and spoon the meatballs and sauce over the top – people can then serve themselves at the table. All that’s left is to blanch some green beans (click here to see my previous post on blanching veg!) and voila, a meal that’s both nutritious and delicious.
(makes 30 meatballs)
SAUCE // 3 large red peppers; cored, deseeded & quartered // 3 tbsp olive oil // 1 white onion; diced // 3 garlic cloves; minced // 1 red chilli; finely chopped // 2 heaped tbsp tomato puree // 3 400ml cans of tinned tomatoes // a drizzle of sesame oil // salt and pepper to season
MEATBALLS // 900g beef mince // 9 tbsp breadcrumbs (1 tbsp for every 100g minced meat) // 4 heaped tsp Dijon mustard // 2 heaped tbsp dried oregano // 2 large eggs; beaten // zest of 1 lemon // salt and pepper to season
Start by pre-heating your oven to 180°. In a large bowl, toss the pepper with 1 tbsp of the olive oil and season to your taste. Transfer to a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper and pop in the oven for about 30min – until the pepper is soft and the skins slightly blackened.
Once cooked, immediately transfer to a bowl and cover in cling-film for 10-15min. This will allow the pepper to sweat and their skins can be removed more easily.
In a large saucepan, heat the remaining oil over a medium heat. Saute the garlic and chilli until they become fragrant and then add the onions. Soften the onions for around 10min, until they are translucent, and then add the tomato puree.
I once read that for a tomato sauce with the richest flavour you should always cook off your tomato puree until it caramelises and darkens in colour I find that this makes all the difference so make sure not to skip this step! Next, add the tinned tomatoes and then let your sauce simmer away for up to an hour if you have the time. The longer you cook your sauce for richer it will be.
Once you have skinned your peppers, rip them into ribbons and chuck in to the sauce. Make sure to also add and liquid left in the bottom of the bowl your peppers were sweating in – you don’t want to lose out on any flavour enhancing opportunities!
Time to get you hands dirty – to make the meatballs, simply put all the required ingredients into a large bowl and scrunch them together. Once evenly mixed, you can start rolling out the meatballs. You are aiming to make 30, each roughly the size of a golf-ball.
I bake my meatballs – simply because I think it’s easier, healthier and less time consuming then frying them in batches – so if you’re following my lead, spread the meatballs out on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper. Drizzle with olive oil and then shake the tray around a bit so they’re all evenly coated. They need around 20 minutes at 180°.
Once cooked, add the meatballs to the sauce and simmer for 5min or so before serving.
S-O-T-H TIP: This recipe freezes really well – defrost overnight in the fridge then reheat until piping hot, either on the stove or in the oven.