Not just any meatballs

This weekend I offered to make dinner for my family. It used to be a regular occurrence, on Saturday nights, but revision schedules and music practices soon put an end to that. Still, recently I've felt the desire to improve my cooking skills; after all , you can't live on cake alone, as much as we might wish to!

This desire was further spurred on by my two most recent attempts at baking - both the muffins and the cookies tasted good, but the texture was all wrong. So, I thought I'd take a little break for a while and focus on savoury foods - with the occasional sweet treat thrown in. At the moment I'm dreaming of a roasted carrot salad (just like Katie's, here) and maybe a pasta dish as well. For now, we have meatballs! (Badly photographed - a great time for my camera to go out of battery.)

I've always avoided making meatballs purely because Mum warned me about the difficulties - they can be quite prone to falling apart - but there came a time when the urge to recreate the succulent little balls from Santander became too much for me. A trip to the butcher soon followed, and after a search through the cupboards and a forage in the herb garden, this recipe was born.

I wanted light, tender meatballs in a rich tomato sauce. Here we have pork mince (not as heavy as beef) that has been flavoured with oregano, bulked up with breadcrumbs and cooked in the sauce (as opposed to frying, which creates a crust).

The sauce is made with tinned tomatoes, a bit of red pepper, onion and a few soft tomatoes that were rolling around in the fridge. The vegetables will have to be chopped as finely as possible, until you can barely see them; or you can simmer the sauce, blend it and then add the meatballs if your eyes start to well up at the thought of spending more time chopping onions! I always seem to be quite badly affected by the bitter fumes and end up with mascara streaming down my face and a burning that can only be relieved by sticking my head out of a window for a minute or two; has anyone got any tips for onion-proofing your eyes?

Anyway, let's get cooking! 

Start by sautéing onion, a bit of garlic, red pepper and a few tomatoes in a little oil. 

Add tinned tomatoes and a little bit of water. Throw in a bay leaf, some herbs de provence and simmer. 

Whilst the sauce is cooking, make the meatballs. Breadcrumbs, onions, pork mince, an egg and some fresh oregano. 

Shape into little balls and drop into the (blended) sauce. Cook until they are no longer pink and are piping hot. 

Enjoy with some rice and vegetables such as peas, beans or cabbage. 

Pork Meatballs in Tomato Sauce
1 onion
1 clove garlic
1/2 red pepper
A few cherry tomatoes (optional)
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp herbes de provence
Pinch sugar
1 tin chopped tomatoes + half tin of water

1. Finely chop the onion and the garlic. Sauté in a little oil in a large pan until translucent.
2. Chop the pepper and the tomatoes and add these to the onions. Cook for a few minutes.
3. Add the chopped tomatoes, water, herbs and pinch of sugar. Simmer with the lid on the pan for 20 -30 minutes whilst you make the meatballs. Blend the sauce before adding the meatballs, if wished.

300g pork mince
1 small egg, beaten
80g breadcrumbs
1/2 onion
2 tbsp fresh oregano, chopped

1. Mix all of the ingredients together until they form a clump.
2. Shape into small balls - you should be able to get about 20 meatballs. 
3. After blending the sauce, drop into the pan, trying to get every meatball covered in the sauce, with its own space in the pan. Cook for 20 - 30 minutes until piping hot and cooked through. 

Serve with rice and vegetables!