Pasta with meatballs in tomato sauce

Pasta with meatballs in tomato sauce, by Nigella Lawson, is the comfort food dinner dish
By Nigella Lawson
Pasta with meatballs in tomato sauce
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 6
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Prep Time: 25 minutes plus resting
  • Effort: medium


For the meatballs

  • 250 g pork, minced
  • 250 g beef, minced
  • 1 eggs
  • 2 tbsp parmesan, freshly grated
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 3 tbsp semolina, or breadcrumbs
  • 1 pinches pepper
  • 1 tsp salt

For the tomato sauce

  • 1 onions
  • 2 clove garlic
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil, (not extra-virgin)
  • 700 g tomato passata
  • 1 pinches sugar
  • 1 pinches salt and black pepper
  • 100 ml full-fat milk

For the pasta

  • 400 g '00' flour
  • 1 pinches salt
  • 4 eggs

Tips and Suggestions

The trick to these meatballs is to keep them small. Don't actually use a teaspoon, but use about a teaspoonful of mince to roll each ball.

For more ways with meatballs, take a look at our top 10 meatball recipes


1. To make the meatballs, just put everything in a large bowl, and then, using your hands, mix to combine, before shaping into small balls.

2. Place the meatballs on baking sheets or plates that you have lined with clingfilm, and put in the fridge as you finish them.

3. To make the tomato sauce, put the onion, garlic and oregano into the process and blitz to a pulp.

4. Heat the butter and oil in a deep wide pan, then scrape the onion-garlic mix into it and cook over a low-medium for about 10 minutes. Don't let the mixture catch, just let it become soft.

5. Add the bottle of passata and then fill the empty bottle half full with cold water. Add this to the pan with the pinch of sugar, some salt and pepper, and cook for about 10 minutes. The tomato sauce will appear thin at this stage, but don't worry as it will thicken a little later.

6. Stir in the milk, and then drop the meatballs in one by one. Don't stir the pan until the meatballs have turned from pink to brown as you don't want to break them up.

7. Cook everything for about 20 minutes, with the lid only partially covering it. At the end of cooking time, check the seasoning as you may want more salt and a grind or two more of pepper.

8. To make the pasta, either put the flour (with the salt) in a bowl and crack the eggs into it, or make a mound of flour on a worktop and add the eggs to that. I don't bother to beat them before adding them to the flour, but if you prefer to, then add them gradually, do. Just find the way that you prefer.

9. All you do is mix the flour and eggs together, and then knead the mixture until it all comes together in a satiny mass. Kneading involves no more than pushing the mixture away from you with the heels of your hands and then bringing it back towards you. If you've got an electric mixer with a dough hook, then do use that, but for some reason I don't find it makes the pasta cohere any sooner. And you don't get the relaxing satisfaction of making it by hand.

10. When the pasta is silky and smooth, form into a ball, cover with a cloth and leave for 30 minutes - 1 hour.

11. Get out your pasta machine, read the instructions and away you go. Two tips first: cut each slice you want to feed through the pasta machine as you go, and put through the no1 press quite a few times, folding the strip in half and pushing it through again after each time. When the pasta dough's been fed a few times through the no1 slot, pass it through the remaining numbers on the gauge, before pushing it through the tagliatelle-cutters. And I find that the pasta strips cut into tagliatelle better if you leave them hanging over the table or wherever to dry a little first (10 minutes is enough).

12. When you cook the pasta, make sure you've got plenty of boiling salted water and start tasting immediately the water comes back to the boil after you've put the pasta in. Use about a third of the meatballs in their sauce to toss the cooked, drained pasta in and then pour the rest of them over the scantly sauced ribbons in the bowl. This is ambrosia: food to get you through the winter happily.

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