This is a very simple dish to make, requiring less than five ingredients for the meatballs and sauce. I made this while we were in Italy, as we had a kitchen in the apartment and it was cheaper to cook at home! While we often think of spaghetti and meatballs as being a quintessentially Italian meal, the meatball actually has a rather interesting history all throughout Europe and the rest of the world. No one knows for sure where the first meatball came from, however there are recipes found from Roman times, such as the following:
“Stuffed Meat Patties (Apicius 48)”
“Ground meat patties in omentum (pork caul fat): Grind chopped meat with the center of fine white bread that has been soaked in wine. Grind together pepper, garum, and pitted myrtle berries if desired. Form small patties, putting in pine nuts and pepper. Wrap in omentum and cook slowly in caroenum.”¹
Which sounds pretty good if you ask me! These days in Italy, meatballs are generally eaten as a main course or soup. The primary ingredients are generally beef and/or pork, salt and pepper, garlic, olive oil, cheese, eggs, bread crumbs and parsley, mixed and rolled by hand to a golf ball size.
Take away the spaghetti, add a salad, and you have a cheap and easy primal meal.
1 small red onion
2-3 cloves of garlic
500g beef (or pork) mince
1 can of tomatoes or passata
Olive or coconut oil for frying
Very finely dice the red onion and garlic. In a bowl, mix the mince with the onion and garlic, as well as a pinch of rosemary, salt and pepper. When mixed thoroughly, roll into golf ball size balls. Heat oil in a frying pan, and fry gently – in batches – on all sides until browned. Place all the meatballs into an oven dish, with some sprigs of fresh rosemary if you have them, and bake for 20 minutes.
While they are baking, dice the brown onion and sauté with some more garlic in the meat juices in the frying pan. Once soft, add the tomato pasatta and seasonings. Stir to heat thoroughly.
To serve, pour the tomato sauce over the meatballs and dish up alongside a fresh salad.