Sad though it is not to be permanently on holiday in California, it’s fun to be back in the kitchen. Missy B was so taken with the spaghetti and meatballs at Il Vecchio, I decided to rustle up something similar.
I looked at a few cookbooks and decided to go with a very simple meatball recipe. I based the tomato sauce on a recipe from Claudia Rosen’s The Food of Italy – apparently she got this from Luciano Pavarotti:
500g minced beef
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
1 large egg, beaten
salt and pepper
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper
2 tbsp basil leaves, chopped
Combine all meatball ingredients except the flour. I fried a small test meatball and then added a little more seasoning (I was doing this just as a vegetarian friend popped over…). Once you’re happy with your seasoning and flavours, shape into small balls, coat in flour and chill until you’re ready to cook them.
Quarter the tomatoes and remove the hard white bits at the end of the stem. Blend in a food processor. Fry the garlic gently in the oil until just beginning to colour – use a saucepan large enough to fit the meatballs in. Add the tomatoes and simmer. I also chucked in little red wine, just because.
Fry the meatballs in a little more olive oil until they are brown all over, then add to the sauce, put a lid on your pan and continue to simmer gently – around 20 minutes one the meatballs are in.
Apparently Pavarotti simmered the sauce for 10 minutes, Claudia Rosen suggests 10-25, but says that 30-45 minutes will give you a jammy consistency and a more intense flavour. I simmered it for about 45 minutes in total, as I do like an intense flavour. I suppose I should have been listening to some opera while I worked – next time!
Add the basil just before serving.
Eat with spaghetti and don’t wear a white top.
The meatballs went down very well, I loved the whole dish – Missy B said it was good but the sauce was better at Il Vecchio. I’ve emailed them to explain the verdict and asked for their recipe – we’ll see what happens!