Lockdown Larder – Day 47 (Monday)

Spaghetti & Meatballs – and Nigel Slater’s Focacia


A family favourite for dinner tonight, and with a plan to use the leftovers tomorrow. I made a double-sized batch, using around 800 g of minced beef. I think this started life as a Jamie Oliver recipe, but I adapt it every time I make it.

Mix the minced beef with a beaten egg, and up to a cup of breadcrumbs. I used panko crumbs. To give them some flavour, I add plenty of seasoning – in this case, a pre-mix I had of Moroccan seasoning. Then simply shape them into balls. I make them around the size of a squash ball. It’s important that they are all roughly the same size, so that they cook evenly. I part company with Mr Oliver for the cooking of them. He fries them in olive oil, but since minced beef is quite fatty anyway, I prefer to bake them in a hot oven for around 10 – 15 minutes – until they are cooked through inside, and the outer has a little crispness.


The sauce couldn’t be easier. Pour a glug of olive oil into a deep frying pan, add one or two cloves of crushed garlic, and some dried herbs. I usually add some dried chilli flakes here. I used mixed herbs, but anything will do. Then tip in two cans of chopped tomatoes, and stir over a medium heat. Add a glug of balsamic vinegar, a tablespoon of tomato puree and a teaspoon of sugar, and then check the seasoning. Tastes good, right?


When the meatballs are done, let them sit in the hot sauce for a few minutes to soak up the flavour. Serve with pasta and a generous sprinkling of freshly grated parmesan. Nom nom.


I like to make a big batch of these, and freeze half, but the reality is they usually get eaten on the night 😊

Since I was at home and had the time, I made a focaccia loaf to go with it, using a Nigel Slater recipe. It’s really easy, and takes little work, apart from the dough to rise, and then to prove in the tin. It’s yummy with a topping of chopped olives, salt and olive oil – and perfect for mopping up the leftover sauce.




New Zealand is still under Lockdown restrictions. This blog intends to avoid the bad news about rising numbers of victims. It focuses instead on food, and the challenges of cooking fresh meals every day – with the ingredients from my larder. A much nicer message 😊


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