Spaghetti and meatballs

Spaghetti and meatballs

No student food column would be complete without a mince meal. And, of course, no post about spaghetti and meatballs would be complete without as many meat-and-balls innuendos as possible either. So I am going to go ahead and say that I frequently crave meaty balls and I love to gobble them up at any opportunity I can get.

Anyway, I used to be afraid of pasta. Pasta equals carbs, and carbs make you fat. Yet, somehow, I was always able to justify two pieces of cake. It wasn’t until recently when a flatful of young gentlemen started serving me up the most amazing pasta dishes did this fear dissipate.

Whenever Mum was in a cooking rut, spaghetti bolognaise with premade sauce popped up on the menu. So I guess it never seemed like something special or worth taking the time to make.

Somehow by turning the mince into tiny meatballs and making the sauce from scratch, this plain and boring staple was turned into something I am proud to serve up to my friends. Nigella and Jamie love using a couple of good sausages in their recipes. I also am a big fan of the sausage, as the fat content helps to bind the lean mince together and give everything a bit of a flavour boost.

Scout your hood for a decent rosemary bush; a couple of sprigs make all the difference. They are hardy plants that survive the Dunedin winter no sweat, so try planting one in between the scatterings of last weekend’s empties.

Ingredients (serves 5)

- One packet of spaghetti

- 400-500g lean beef mince
- 3 plump sausages (I used lamb and rosemary) with the filling squeezed out
- 4 cloves of garlic, chopped finely
- A small handful of rosemary leaves, chopped finely
- ½ cup bread crumbs
- 1 large egg
- Salt and pepper

Tomato sauce:
- 3 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 large onion, diced
- ¼ cup red wine
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- A small handful of rosemary leaves
- ½ teaspoon (or more depending on tastes) dried chilli flakes
- Salt and pepper to taste

All with fresh Italian basil and parmesan cheese to serve.


1. In a large bowl, use your hands to mix all of the meatball ingredients together. Once combined, cover and refrigerate for 20 minutes.

2. Sauté the onion and garlic for the sauce, in a bit of oil, in a medium-sized deep frying pan. Once translucent, add in the oregano and chilli flakes and continue to heat for another minute. Pour in the tomatoes and the balsamic vinegar. Bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer and leave it so for around half an hour while you make the meatballs. Add the red wine a few minutes before you serve.

3. Heat a second frying pan up to a medium heat and splash some oil into it.

4. Take teaspoonful amounts of the mince mixture and roll it into small balls. Fry the balls in a small splash of oil in batches, placing them on a separate plate while the other batches cook. The smaller the meatball, the faster the cooking time. I found myself sprinkling additional chilli flakes and oregano into the pan while they cooked to give more flavour.

5. Once all the meatballs have been cooked, place them all in the sauce and stir so all the meatballs are covered. Add the wine and continue to simmer for a further 10 minutes while you cook your pasta. Season the sauce to taste.

6. Once the pasta is al dente, drain, serve and garnish with torn fresh basil leaves and a good grating of parmesan.
This article first appeared in Issue 3, 2014.
Posted 4:35pm Sunday 9th March 2014 by Sophie Edmonds.