Three things I never thought I’d do as a parent:
- Watch hours of Peppa Pig with my eyes closed and my cheek resting on his shoulder, pretending to be awake and merely affectionate
- Lie about the presence of chocolate buttons in the house
- Buy shoes that light up when he runs
For the meatballs
500g mince – a mixture of beef and pork is ideal; if not, just beef
6 tablespoons breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons grated parmesan or pecorino
2 tablespoons passata
3 cloves garlic, crushed
A few sprigs of basil, leaves finely chopped, or two teaspoons of dried basil
Salt and pepper to taste
For the sauce
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
500g pack of passata, less the two tablespoons you’ve already used
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1 desertspoon balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper
Grated parmesan or pecorino
Mush all the meatball ingredients together in a bowl with your hands; ideally, with latex gloves on so you feel like a lab technician. Form into walnut sized ball – if you’ve still got your CSI gloves on this is easier. Brown the top and bottom of the meatballs for a couple of minutes in a wide, deep frying pan in a splash of olive oil, then add the sauce ingredients and simmer for 30 minutes. I did it right to the point of starting simmering, then finished it off when The Toddler was back in residence. Put the spaghetti on to cook when it’s been simmering for 20 minutes or so.
When it’s done, carefully remove the meatballs, pour the sauce into the cooked spaghetti, mix thoroughly to coat and stir through the chopped basil. Serve the tomatoey spaghetti with meatballs on top, and add cheese at the table. Stirring through the sauce first is a Mr Me and Bert trick.
The recipe was from mylittlelunchbox.com, though I amended it a bit. I make double of the meatballs, freeze them and they make a good, harried-from-work, quick dinner, cooked from frozen with oven chips and peas on the side.