Italian meatballs with roasted peppers & spelt spaghetti recipe image

Print Italian meatballs with roasted peppers & spelt spaghetti

Adding soaked breadcrumbs to the meatball mix helps to lighten the meatball; if they are just solid meat they are always a little tough and have a tendency to shrink and tighten when cooked. This way we should have a meatball that is easy to bind, shape and cook but has a nice soft crumble and texture when eaten. I have chosen to use just beef in this recipe but if you make it again then a half/half mix of beef and pork works very well too.

Ingredients

  • 40g breadcrumbs
  • Dash milk
  • 2 red peppers
  • Light olive oil
  • 1 onion
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 75ml white wine
  • 1 tbsp Worcester sauce
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 300g beef mince
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 25g Italian style hard cheese
  • 250 spelt spaghetti
  • Salt & pepper

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 220˚C/Gas Marm 6. Place the breadcrumbs in a bowl with 2 tablespoon of milk or water to soak. Rub a layer of oil over the red peppers, place them in the baking tray and roast in the oven for 25-30 minutes, turning occasionally, until dark and blistered all over.
  2. While the peppers roast, peel and finely slice the onion. Peel and finely chop or crush 3 garlic cloves. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a saucepan. Gently fry the onions for 5 minutes, until starting to soften. Add two thirds of the garlic to the onions and cook for another 2 minutes.
  3. Add the bay leaf, white wine, Worcester sauce and brown sugar to the pan. Allow it to bubble and reduce by half. Tip in the chopped tomatoes. Fill the empty tin two thirds full of water, give it a quick swill around and tip that in too.
  4. Season with salt and pepper and gently simmer for 15 minutes while you make the meatballs. Put a large pan of salted water on to boil. Mix the soaked breadcrumbs with the beef, oregano, Italian hard cheese and remaining garlic. Season well with salt and pepper and mix thoroughly. Divide into 16 equal-sized balls.
  5. Heat a dash of oil in the frying pan. Fry the meatballs for 2 minutes on both sides until nicely coloured and browned. Transfer the meatballs to the tomato sauce. Allow them to putter along together for a further 15-20 minutes or so. Add a dash of water if it starts to dry out.
  6. Meanwhile, remove the peppers from the oven, place them in a bowl and cover it tightly in cling film. Sit the bowl in the fridge for 5 minutes to allow the peppers to cool.
  7. Peel the blistered skin away and remove the stalk and seeds. Use gloves or cool under running water if still too hot to handle. Chop the clean, soft flesh into rough dice. Add the diced pepper to the tomato sauce for the remainder of the cooking time. Pop the pasta in the pan of boiling water and cook for 8 minutes, until tender. Drain well and serve in shallow bowls. Adjust the seasoning of the tomato and pepper sauce to your liking and ladle over the pasta. Bon appetito.

Cooks notes

Covering the roasted peppers in cling film helps to trap steam as they cool which in turn loosens the skin and helps it peel from the flesh with greater ease.
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