This recipe can be prepared beforehand and frozen. It takes a while (1 hour 45 minutes) but it wasn't complicated.
Ingredients for 4 people:
1 onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, crushed
3 bay leaves
400g chopped tomatoes
600ml of passata
2 tbsp tomato puree
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp red wine vinegar (I used sherry vinegar as that is what I had in the cupboard)
500g beef meatballs
250g grated mozzarella
100g grated cheddar cheese
Garlic bread (or pasta or rice)
Gently fry the diced onions in a tablespoon of olive oil in a large frying pan until softened (around 5 minutes). Then add the garlic and increase the heat for a couple of minutes.
Add the bay leaves, tomatoes, passata, puree, brown sugar and red wine vinegar to the frying pan. Let it bubble for 20 minutes until the sauce has reduced and thickened. Then season to taste.
Cool all the ingredients to room temperature. (We actually missed out this part as we were starving and didn't want to wait)!
10 minutes before you are ready to cook preheat the oven to 180 C / 160 C / gas mark 4.
When everything has cooled combine the meatballs and tomato sauce in a big baking dish.
Mix together 200g of mozzarella with 100g of mascarpone and a little salt and then blob over the tomato and meatball mixture. Scatter the remaining mozzarella and the grated cheese.
Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Then remove the foil and cook for a remainder 30-45 minutes until the meatballs are piping hot and cooked through and the cheesy top is golden and bubbling. Around 15-20 minutes before the end, add your garlic bread or start thinking about preparing your pasta or rice.
Finally when it is ready, leave to stand for 5 minutes and then serve and enjoy.
I think we had our oven a little too hot and as I never left ours to cool before cooking, it ended up slightly burnt!! Whoops! Thankfully it didn't alter the taste and I thought this was absolutely delicious - cheesy, tomatoey and meaty - a great combination. We all adored scooping it up with the garlic bread. Both Pascal and Arabella felt it had a little too much tomato sauce but I wasn't complaining.
This is is great hearty dish - perfect for dinner parties and family meals as it can be prepared before and frozen if necessary. I cannot wait for my leftovers today!