Saturday, 21 January 2017

Italian baked meatballs with mozzarella

Italian recipes, meatballs in tomato sauce

The recipe for Italian baked meatballs appeared a year ago in January 2016 edition of Delicious magazine. I don't buy every issue of Delicious, as my house is overflowing with cooking magazines as it is.
If anything, I need to declutter, and I have started to mercilessly recycle dozens of magazines, just leaving a few cutting from each issue, as we are running out of space. I have to be ruthless, though I am keeping some of the older issues of BBC Good Food and I am definitely keeping all Taste Italia magazines, as they are just too good to be recycled.

Delicious magazine runs a regular competition Cook the cover. Last year I did take part about 3 times, and a few times the year before, but have never been lucky. I am not even sure they see all the entries, as when you post a photo on Instagram with a hashtag, they don't seem to acknowledge it at all. Sainsbury's magazine runs a similar competition, where you need to post a photo of the dish from the current issue on Twitter, and they usually either like the photo to show you that they have seen it, or even tweet back to you.

Italian baked meatballs was the cover recipe a year ago, and this post has been in my draft since then. I have adapted the recipe to suit my list of ingredients, but if you fancy reading the original recipe, just follow the link above.
It is a proper Italian comfort food, perfect for cold weather, though also quite high in calories, so perhaps not for people on a diet. You could use leaner beef mince and skip mozzarella to make it less calorific, and use the oil spray.

Italian recipes, meatballs in tomato sauce

Italian Baked Meatballs with Mozzarella
For the tomato sauce:
4tbsp olive oil + more for frying the meatballs
2 anchovies (optional)
1 onion, finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, finely crushed
2 tins of peeled plum tomatoes (Cirio tinned tomatoes are highly recommended)
a pinch of dried thyme
1tbsp ketchup
a pinch of brown sugar

For the meatballs:
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
1tsp dried basil
500g beef mince
125g fresh mozzarella
zest of 1/2 lemon

First prepare the tomato sauce - heat the olive oil in a deep frying pan, add the anchovies, onion and garlic and fry over the gentle heat for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add tinned tomatoes, thyme, ketchup and sugar. Bring to boil, then lower the heat and cook for half an hour, stirring often.
Make the meatballs by mixing all the ingredients except the mozzarella cheese together.
Using hands, roll the meatballs the size of walnuts.
Heat the oil in a frying pan, add the meatballs, and cook on all sides until well browned. Transfer the meatballs in a deep baking dish, pour the tomato sauce over them. Tear the mozzarella into pieces and scatter over the meatballs and sauce. Bake for 10 minutes at 180c until the cheese has melted.
Serve with a nice crusty bread to mop up the sauce.

The original recipe suggested cooking a garlic baguette, but I think there were robust flavours going on without the garlic bread.

As always, when you cook tomato-based sauces, source the best tinned tomatoes, for example, Cirio, which are well known for high quality and flavour.

meatballs in tomato sauce, comfort food, Italian recipes

Have you ever taken part in Cook the cover competition? Were you a lucky winner?


  1. This looks gorgeous - glad to see I'm not the only one with bookmarked recipes languishing in my drafts folder !!

    1. If only you knew how many posts I have sitting in the draft, it is scary. :)

  2. That looks lovely. I wish I had posts in draft, I have posts in notebooks which is not the same!