Spaghetti Marinara with Oven-baked Meatballs

I came across the recipe for these “Marvellous Meatballs” over at Sweet and Savory Bite a couple of months ago. The reasons these meatballs are supposed to be marvellous were 1) a mix of ground beef, veal and pork and 2) that they were oven-baked. Great expectations!!

What worked and what didn’t:
A funny coincidence that on the same day Sweet and Savoury Bite published this recipe, there was an episode of Masterchef Holland where the contestants had a masterclass on meatballs from Wim Ballieu.

He is a Belgian chef whose ‘Balls & Glory‘ restaurants are mainly focussed on meatballs. He started only a couple of years ago with a pop-up restaurant. It was awarded as Europe’s best new food concept in 2013 and there are now 4 permanent locations (alas only in Belgium), 2 cookbooks and the B&G meatballs are available in selected Delhaize supermarkets too. Wim’s main tip for succulent meatballs was… using a mix of ground beef, veal and pork and baking them in the oven… Greater expectations!!!

I followed the recipe and they indeed the meatballs came out great and were very succulent. Baking meatballs in the oven works brilliantly! As such we found the meatballs from the recipe a bit bland for our taste as it only has chopped parsley, grated parmesan and a dash of Worcestershire sauce as seasoning. So next time I would add some salt, pepper and a grating of nutmeg, but the possibilities are endless!

We combined the meatballs with half a batch of this basic marinara type of pasta sauce and spaghetti. I usually add a couple of tablespoons of ricotta to the tomato based sauce to get some creaminess, but this is fully optional.

  • 4 x 400g/14oz. cans of peeled tomatoes 
  • 60ml extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 1 finely chopped carrot
  • 1 finely chopped celery stalk
  • 4 minced garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground chili flakes
  • 4 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • a couple of tablespoons of ricotta (optional, to taste)
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  1. Heat oil in a medium pan. Add onions and cook until softened, but not browned. Add in carrot and celery and cook until they are softened too. Then add in garlic and cook for 1 minute.
  2. Add in tomatoes (and break them up with a wooden spoon), oregano, and chili flakes, stir to combine and bring to boil.
  3. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer and cook until slightly thickened, about 30 minutes to 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
  4. Remove from heat, stir in basil and ricotta (optional) and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Recipe accuracy:
The recipe is accurate and you’ll get about 24-30 golfball sized meatballs. To get them fully cooked and slightly browned took me 5-10 minutes longer than the advertised 15 minutes at 170C/350F, but I blame my oven for that.

Suggested tweaks:
A bit more seasoning to the meatballs and that’s it. If you think your regular meatballs are getting a bit dull, I suggest heading over to the B&G site for some inspiration!

Verdict: 9/10; The meatballs will definitely be made in the oven again!

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