Readers Digest
Magazine subscription Podcast
HomeFood & DrinkRecipes

The best meatball and tomato sauce recipe

BY Rachel Walker

21st May 2019 Recipes

The best meatball and tomato sauce recipe

This just might be the most delicious thing you cook this year, here's our meatball recipe

May can be something of a culinary bridging period: winter stews are a distant memory, but often a light summer salad won’t quite cut it. Classic Italian dishes are a great option during these in-between months—they’re suited to warmer weather, yet still substantial enough to fill bellies.


Ingredients, serves 4

•25g breadcrumbs
•50ml milk
•500g beef mince
•1 egg yolk
•2 garlic cloves, crushed
•1tbsp Dijon mustard
•1tbsp Lea and Perrins
•1 gherkin, diced (optional, but preferable in my opinion!)
•Salt and pepper, to season
•3tbsp olive oil

For the tomato sauce:

•2tbsp olive oil
•1 large onion, diced
•3 garlic cloves, crushed
•½ fresh or dried red chilli
•2 x 400g tins of chopped tomatoes
•1tsp dried oregano
•1tsp sugar
•400g dried spaghetti, linguine or penne
•Parmesan cheese, to serve


1. Pour milk over the breadcrumbs, and set aside to soak, while you prepare ingredients for the tomato sauce.

2. Start sauce by pouring the oil into a heavy-bottomed pan and sweating the onions on a gentle heat, until soft and turning translucent—about 8 minutes. Add garlic and chilli and fry for a further minute until fragrant, then add both tins of tomatoes. Rinse the empty tins with a splash of tap water and add this to the pan, along with the oregano and sugar. Simmer, uncovered, on a gentle heat to intensify the flavours and enrich the sauce while you make the meatballs.

3. Tip the breadcrumbs into a large mixing bowl, then add the rest of the meatball ingredients. Use hands to scrunch everything together, season generously, and roll into large, walnut-sized balls—lining them up on a chopping board as you go.

4. Boil water and cook the pasta (according to pack instructions, usually 10 minutes). Meanwhile, heat the remaining oil in a shallow pan until it sizzles. Fry the meatballs for 8-10 minutes, until golden-brown.

5. Pop them in the simmering tomato sauce to finish. Drain the pasta, divide it between four bowls, top with the sauce and meatballs and finish with a generous grating of Parmesan cheese.


Loading up next...
Stories by email|Subscription
Readers Digest

Launched in 1922, Reader's Digest has built 100 years of trust with a loyal audience and has become the largest circulating magazine in the world

Readers Digest
Reader’s Digest is a member of the Independent Press Standards Organisation (which regulates the UK’s magazine and newspaper industry). We abide by the Editors’ Code of Practice and are committed to upholding the highest standards of journalism. If you think that we have not met those standards, please contact 0203 289 0940. If we are unable to resolve your complaint, or if you would like more information about IPSO or the Editors’ Code, contact IPSO on 0300 123 2220 or visit