Meatballs in a Rustic Tomato Sauce Recipe

Posted on 9 January 2023

COOK meals are perfect for when you fancy a night off cooking … something even the most passionate home cook needs now and again. But how do our prices compare with making it yourself?

We followed our recipe for two for Meatballs in a Rustic Tomato Sauce at home and found it was more expensive getting the ingredients from the supermarket.

We based this on checking Sainsbury’s online ingredient prices in October 22 and now we have updated to most recent prices in February 22, for a two portion recipe. We didn't include ingredients we had in the fridge or kitchen cupboard (including any alcohol) and used the smallest available amounts of what we needed.

Our shopping list for the recipe below included:  onion, garlic, minced beef, minced pork, basil, red pesto, chopped tomatoes, passata, tomato puree, semi dried tomatoes. Everything else we had already.

If you'd prefer to make it yourself, our recipe for a 2 portion is below.  As freezer connoisseurs we'd always recommend batch cooking for the absolute best value recipe - scroll to the end for some tips.

Meatballs in a Rustic Tomato Sauce Recipe


    • 1 tbsp rapeseed oil
    • 50g onion, finely chopped
    • 1 small garlic clove, crushed
    • 150g minced beef, 12% fat
    • 150g minced pork, 10% fat
    • 1 small bunch fresh basil, chopped
    • 1 tbsp fresh breadcrumbs
    • 1 tsp red pesto
    • 1 free range egg yolk
    • pinch chilli flakes
    • salt and pepper to taste
    • 3 tbsp rapeseed oil, for frying
    • For the Tomato Sauce:

    • 2 tbsp rapeseed oil
    • 80g onion, sliced
    • 40g carrot, finely chopped
    • 40g celery, finely chopped
    • 1 small garlic clove, crushed
    • 50ml red wine
    • 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
    • 1 tsp soft light brown sugar
    • 80g chopped tomatoes
    • 60g passata
    • 25g tomatoe puree
    • 1 tsp red pesto
    • 40g semi dried tomatoes, chopped
    • 100ml chicken stock
    • salt and pepper to taste



STEP 1. Heat one tablespoon of rapeseed oil in a heavy stainless-steel saucepan over a gentle heat and add the onion and garlic. Cover and sweat for four minutes, until soft and a little golden. Allow to cool.

STEP 2. In a bowl, mix the minced beef & minced pork with the cold sweated onion and garlic. Add the chopped basil, pesto, chilli flakes, egg yolk and breadcrumbs. Season the mixture with salt and pepper.

STEP 3. Divide the mixture into 8 round balls. Cover the meatballs and refrigerate for at least an hour to firm up.

STEP 4. Once the balls have firmed up, heat a frying pan with the oil and fry the meatballs for 5 minutes until golden (do not fully cook). Remove onto a plate and reserve.

STEP 5. To make the tomato sauce, heat the oil in a saucepan. Add the sliced onion, chopped carrot, celery and the crushed garlic, toss until coated, cover, and sweat on a gentle heat until soft.

STEP 6. Add the red wine, balsamic vinegar and sugar, and reduce to a sizzle.

STEP 7. Add the chopped tomatoes, passata, pesto, chopped sundried tomatoes, tomato puree and chicken stock.

STEP 8. Bring the sauce up to the boil and add the reserved meatballs along with any resting juices. Simmer the sauce covered with a lid for 15 minutes. Remove the lid, stir and continue to simmer without the lid for five minutes (this will enable the sauce to reduce and thicken up).

STEP 9. If serving with spaghetti, this would be a good time to cook it.

STEP 10. To serve, remove the balls with a slotted spoon onto the plate, add half the chopped basil to the sauce and season to taste (if the sauce is a little thick add some water to achieve the desired consistency).

STEP 11. Pour the sauce over the meatballs, sprinkle over the remaining basil and serve.


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