First posted: Jun 3, 2011

Baked Lamb Meatballs in Tomato and Red Wine Sauce


Spaghetti and meatballs is a true Italian classic, the antithesis to intimidating food and utterly charming in their simplicity. I recently decided to take things one step further and quietly, so as not to offend all Italian forefathers before me, swop in lamb for beef. Well, as the meatballs quietly bubbled away in their tomato and red wine sauce, the whispers soon built up into a din and left us with a plateful of something that tasted like a kind of miracle. Gorgeous rich red-wine and tomato sauce coating plump herb-filled lamb meatballs over wholewheat spaghetti. Rob even ventured to give this a (very rare) whopping 9/10. ‘Nuf said.



Cooks in:        Serves:6

For the meatballs
  • 750g lamb mince
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • Half cup feta, crumbed
  • 2 Tbsp each of chopped fresh mint (or coriander) and parsley
  • 1 tsp dried coriander
  • 1 tsp dried cumin
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
For the sauce
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large or 2 small cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 1 tsp dried chilli flakes or 1 fresh chilli, de-seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1 tin chopped, peeled tomatoes
  • 4 Tbsp tomato puree
  • 4 Tbsp chutney (or 2 Tbsp sugar)
  • 1 packet spaghetti (I used wholewheat)

What to do

1. Pre-heat oven to 180C and add 1 kettle boiling water to a large pot on high heat.

2. In a large bowl mix the mince, half the onion, feta, herbs and spices together then roll into golf-ball sized meatballs. If you have time, refrigerate the meatballs again at this point for half an hour or so so that they are nice and firm.

3. In a large pan on maximum heat, add 1-2 Tbsp olive oil and then brown the meatballs on all sides (2-3 minutes). Remove and set aside in a large open casserole dish. Turn the heat down to medium, add in the onions, garlic and chilli and fry gently until the onions soften (2-3 minutes). Then add the onion mixture to the meatballs.

4. In a separate jug/pitcher, mix together the red wine, tinned tomato, tomato puree, and chutney, then pour over the meatballs and onions in the casserole dish.

5. Bake at 180C for 30-40 minutes until the sauce has reduced and thickened, turning the meatballs half way through. During this time cook the spaghetti according to packet instructions. Season the sauce to taste with salt, pepper and sugar (if necessary to break the tanginess of the tomatoes).

6. Serve over the spaghetti with a sprinkling of fresh parsley and, if you're really hungry, a slice of ciabatta on the side.

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