Mini Meatball Fedilini

  • Time: 1 hour
  • Serves: 4
  • Level: easy
This is a clever way with meat balls. As small individual portions it makes an elegant Italian starter. The smaller-sized meatballs and thin spaghetti also make a fun and wholesome dish for children. Or piled high on a big platter it makes a great family dish to share around the table.

What you need

400g fedilini, or other thin long pasta

For the meatballs

800g rose veal mince – or pork or beef mince

1 onion

3 gloves garlic

30g fresh bread crumbs

80ml double cream

1 large egg

2 tsp dried oregano

25g fresh parsley, chopped very fine

For the sauce

375ml tomato passata

250ml chicken stock

125ml water

1/2 tsp sugar

1 large onion

3 cloves garlic

3 bay leaves

1 tsp dried oregano

To serve

Grated Parmesan to taste

Extra parsley for garnish


How Dad Cooked It

I’ve used English rose veal for my meatballs. It’s a wonderfully, delicate meat with a mild flavour – and when used this version of ‘spaghetti and meatballs’ it makes a very easy going and sustaining supper. English rose veal calves are reared humanely. They are a natural outcome of milk production, so we should all be less queasy about eating veal. However, if you prefer, these meatballs are also good made with pork or beef mince.

Veal from CD Jennings & Sons, Surbiton

1. Make the breadcrumbs. Use a fresh rustic-type loaf to make the breadcrumbs. Cut off the crust and cut into chunks. Measure 30g and blitz in blender. Put the cream in a bowl and add the crumbs.

2. Make the meatball mixture. Separately, chop the onion and garlic into a very fine dice. Put a heavy pan on a low-medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons of light olive oil and then the onions with half a teaspoon of salt. Gently fry the onions, stirring often for 10 minutes. Then add the garlic and fry for a further 10 minutes. In a large bowl beat the egg, whisk in the breadcrumbs and cream, then the cooked onion mixture with the parsley and oregano. Add the meat and mix thoroughly. If you have the time, put the mixture in the fridge to rest for 20 minutes.

3. Make the sauce. Chop the onion and garlic into a fine dice. Put a large heavy pan on a low-medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons of light olive oil and then the onions with half a teaspoon of salt. Gently fry the onions and garlic, stirring often for 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes, stock, sugar, bay leaves and oregano. Bring to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes.

4. Make the meatballs. Form the meat mixture into small balls. Continue working through the mixture to make similar-sized balls and set aside on plates.

5. Fry the meatballs. Using a large heavy frying pan, add about 80ml -100ml of vegetable oil. Heat the pan on a medium-high heat and fry the meatballs in small batches until browned. Drain each batch and set aside as you work through all the balls. Try to ensure the meatballs brown without burning.

6. Finish the meatballs. Carefully add the browned meatballs to the sauce, simmer gently for 5-10 minutes.

7. Make the pasta. Boil the pasta in salted water until al dente. Drain, reserving a large cup of the cooking liquid. Time this so the pasta is cooked as the meatballs have finished cooking in their sauce.

8. Finish the pasta. Using a slotted spoon, take the meatballs from the sauce and set aside somewhere warm. Add the fedilini to the remaining sauce and toss, loosen the sauce and pasta with the reserved cooking liquid. Check the seasoning. Put the pasta on individual plates or a platter and add the meatballs on top. Serve with crusty bread and grated Parmesan cheese. Garnish with chopped fresh parsley.


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