What do you feed two hungry blokes who spent all afternoon lugging around heavy fridges? - Yep, that’s right, meatballs.

I know that pretty much every supermarket now sells ready made meatballs… for about quadruple the price of a pack of minced meat. Now seriously, why would you do that to yourself. Just buy some good quality minced meat (whatever you fancy: beef, pork, lamb or turkey) and season it the way you like.

Meatballs are dead easy to make and pretty versatile when it comes to finding suitable sides. The obvious solution would be to make meatballs and spaghetti but I decided to try something different. So I cooked up some simple, fragrant lemon and thyme rice and roast veg to accompany my beef meatballs. Make a bit more and take to work for lunch the next day.

COOKS 45 mins



For the meatballs
  • 500g lean beef mince (you can use any type of mince)
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped or crushed
  • a handful of chopped parsley
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp salt
  • pepper to season
  • 1 tsp plain flour 

For the tomato sauce
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • a handful of chopped basil
  • 1 small glass of red wine
  • 3 sprigs of thyme, leaves only
  • salt and pepper to season 

For the roast veg
  • 1 courgette, sliced
  • 2 tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 pepper, sliced
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 sprigs of thyme
  • olive oil 

For the rice (the secret is to measure your rice by volume and not weight!)
  • 280ml white rice
  • 560ml chicken stock
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 4 sprigs of thyme, leaves only

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180˚C.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together all your meatball ingredients. I use my hands, because it allows for a better mix. Sprinkle some flour on a large plate or baking tray. Wet your hands with some warm water and form 24 meatballs, by rolling the minced meat mixture between your hands. Set aside. Wash your hands thoroughly afterwards.
  3. Fry your onions in some olive oil for a few minutes until soft. Add the wine and cook until the wine has reduced to half. Mix in the chopped tomatoes and simmer for 20 minutes.
  4. Place your vegetables on a baking tray, drizzle with some olive oil, season with salt and pepper and scatter the sprigs of thyme on top. Cook in the pre-heated oven for 30 minutes.
  5. Heat some olive oil in a separate pan. Fry your meatballs for approximately 3 minutes on each side, until brown. Add the basil and thyme to the tomato sauce and give it a good stir before placing your meatballs on top of the sauce. Cover with a lid and cook for approximately 20 minutes on a low - medium heat (giving it a stir every now and then).
  6. Add your rice to a saucepan and cover with just boiled chicken stock. Cover with a lid and simmer at a medium heat for 15 minutes, giving it a gentle stir every now and then to avoid sticking. Don’t be tempted to add more water, as this will make your rice go soggy (yep, I made that mistake and had to start all over again :( ) - When done, stir in the lemon juice and thyme leaves. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and set aside for 10 minutes. The kitchen towel will absorb all the steam and give you lovely fluffy rice.
And that’s it - serve your meatballs and tomato sauce with the lemony rice and sweet roast veg and a nice glass of strong red wine.

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