Mozzarella Stuffed Meatballs in tomato sauce
Meatballs and pasta mean comfort for many people – made for sharing, and with cost-effective ingredients for a family supper. Add a centre of melting mozzarella and they’re even more gorgeous – the stringy melted cheese adds another savoury note and silky texture. The meatballs keep moist and tender in the sauce.
You can make the meatballs up to 1 day ahead and keep them part cooked in the fridge, ready to pour the sauce over and place in the oven for the final warm-through.
Serve them bubbling in their dish, with heaps of spaghetti and scatterings of grated parmesan. You could add an extra of garlic bread to mop up the sauce and a side salad of lightly dressed rocket leaves.
You’ll have a very happy family!
Serves 4 Timings – 15 minutes preparation, 20 minutes to pre-cook the meatballs. Final cooking in the oven another 35 minutes.
Drain the mozzarella and then cut the balls of mozzarella into cubes about 1cm square.
In a large bowl combine the mince, chopped onion, tomato puree, Worcester sauce, marmite, oregano, mustard powder, chopped parsley with salt and pepper. Mix vigorously with your hands – it’s the only way to combine the tomato puree and marmite properly into the mixture, a spoon just won’t do it. Take a walnut sized lump of the mixture and spread it on the palm of your hand. Plonk a cube of mozzarella onto the meat and smooth the meat up and around so it encloses the cube completely. Place the meatballs on a plate as you complete them. Use up all the mince, and you should use up all the cheese, but if you have a piece or two left over, that’s fine, you can just cut it up and put it in the dish when you finally oven cook.
Pour a generous layer of cooking oil – about 1.5cm - into a heavy based frying pan and heat well. Fry the meatballs a few at a time – about half a batch this size goes into my big pan at once. Don’t cram them in too closely as that will cause the oil to cool down too much and you want it hot to sear the outside of the meatballs quickly and not allow the cheese to ooze out. Turn the meatballs as they cook so that they brown all over and remove onto kitchen paper to drain after a few minutes – they only need about 3-4 minutes cooking per batch. Repeat with the next batch until you have cooked all the meatballs. The odd one or two might split, it doesn’t really matter.
At this stage, you can keep the meatballs in the fridge for 24 hours.
Preheat the oven to 200°C.
If using the carton of passata, take out the garlic now. Warm the sauce or passata in a pan. Season if it needs it.
Place the meatballs in an oven proof dish that will take them all in one layer. Pour the sauce over, adding any leftover bits of mozzarella. Add a fresh leaf of basil or two. The meatballs should just show through the surface of the sauce.
Cover the dish with kitchen foil and cook for 20 minutes. Then remove the foil and continue to cook for another 15 minutes until the sauce is bubbling and you can smell the meat/mozzarella and sauce melding beautifully.
Serve with freshly cooked spaghetti, a sprinkling of parmesan cheese and a slice of buttery garlic bread.
A Hug from the Kitchen
Healthy, hearty, happy food, for good times and bad. Cheer yourself up, or spread the cheer around your family and friends.