Recipes 3 WAYS WITH STUFFED MEATBALLS IN A SMOKY, SPICY TOMATO SAUCE

3 WAYS WITH STUFFED MEATBALLS IN A SMOKY, SPICY TOMATO SAUCE

Prep 30 mins
Cooking 60 mins
Serves 6

Meatballs in tomato sauce are a winner any day of the week – even more so when those meatballs contain a hidden-centre surprise! We share our ultimate beef meatball mix recipe and give you three ideas for stuffing them. As for the tomato sauce? It’s not just any old tomato sauce either, because we give ours plenty of smoky, spicy attitude.

- WHAT YOU WILL NEED -

  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 8 large basil leaves, finely chopped
  • a few basil leaves, to garnish
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • mozzarella cheese
  • 1½ tsp salt
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp very finely grated lemon zest (that’s one extra large lemon)
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 20g punnet of flatleaf parsley, very finely chopped
  • FOR THE SMOKY, SPICY TOMATO SAUCE:
  • 1kg lean beef mince
  • 2 x 410g tins of chopped tomatoes
  • 2 slices white bread
  • 1 tsp Cape Herb & Spice CHIPOTLE CHILLI
  • FOR THE BASE MEATBALL MIX:
  • 1 Tbsp Cape Herb & Spice SMOKED PAPRIKA
  • 2 plump cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1½ Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 heaped cup finely chopped red onion

- METHOD -

To make the tomato sauce:

Pour the olive oil into a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and gently fry until soft, stirring from time to time. Add the garlic, Cape Herb & Spice smoked paprika and chipotle chilli as well as the tomato paste and fry for a few seconds. Then add the tomatoes, salt and brown sugar. Cover with a lid and simmer over very low heat for 30 minutes. In the meantime you can make the base meatball mix.

To make the base meatball mix:

Cut the crusts off the two slices of white bread, cut the slices into smaller blocks and pop them into your food processor. Pulse until it forms fine breadcrumbs. Combine these breadcrumbs with the rest of the meatball ingredients and mix thoroughly.

To stuff your meatballs:

You can just roll plain meatballs from the meatball mix, nothing wrong with a classic. Or you could play a bit, and stuff them with something interesting.

Stuffing option #1: Mozzarella cheese. Cut mozzarella cheese into 1cm blocks. Place some meatball mix in the palm of your hand and place the mozzarella block in the middle. Cover it with more meatball mix and roll it in your hands to form, a perfect ball with no visible cracks.

Stuffing option #2: Gnocchi. Buy ready-made gnocchi from your supermarket – go for the top quality fresh gnocchi you’ll find in the fridge section, not the long-life stuff you’ll find on the shelf. Boil the gnocchi in plenty of water until they rise to the top – it takes mere seconds. Spoon out and allow the gnocchi to cool for a few seconds until they’re comfortable to handle. Using the same technique as with the mozzarella cheese block, stuff the meatball with one or two pieces of gnocchi.

Stuffing option #3: Giant pasta shells. Cook giant pasta shells until just al dente – it must still be very firm to the bite, then drain pasta and allow to cool. Stuff the inside of each pasta shell with a bit of meatball mix, then add more meat to cover the entire shell and roll it in your hands to shape a perfect ball.

To finish the dish: Heat a tablespoon or two of vegetable oil in a large non-stick pan and fry the meatballs until brown on the outside. Spoon the tomato sauce into a large oven-proof dish and place the meatballs in the sauce (They may be brown on the outside but will still be raw on the inside and will finish cooking in the oven.) Dot any open spaces of tomato sauce with slices of normal mozzarella or fresh mozzarella bocconcini balls. Bake in a pre-heated 180 degrees Celsius oven for 30 minutes. To serve, top with some fresh basil.

 

Recipe concept & photography by Lizet Hartley.

Lizet Hartley is a freelance stills and reel food stylist, food photographer and recipe developer. In her spare time she – rather predictably – cooks. Get more of her recipes on her blog at http://www.melkkos-merlot.co.za

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