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A summer way with spaghetti and meatballs [Recipe]

A tarted-up midsummer version of what mamma proverbially makes. I used fancy dried egg fettuccine here: at this time of year I think lighter pastas work better than the wheaty carb-loads of January. Dried egg pastas, incidentally, are nothing like the 'fresh' ones you get from supermarket chillers, which always taste slimy and which never have enough bite. I could have made my own, of course, but it wasn't that kind of evening.

Fettuccine with roast tomatoes and meatballs

Serves 4


1kg of fresh tomatoes, the best you can find
250g beef or veal mince
600g good-quality dried egg pasta
The leaves from a few strands of fresh thyme
2 cloves garlic, grated with a Microplane
1 tsp dried marjoram
A little plain flour to coat the meatballs
Perhaps 2-3 tbsps double cream to loosen the sauce
Big handful fresh basil leaves
Pecorino, to serve

Preheat the oven to 200ÂșC. Slice the tomatoes in half and put them with the garlic and thyme on a baking tray. Season and cover with olive oil. You don't want to leave any dry bits – best to coat them by hand. Roast for 30 minutes and set aside.

While the tomatoes are cooking, put the mince into a large bowl. Season well, add the marjoram and shape into balls. Coat lightly in flour then fry in olive oil until they've take on a good colour and are still slightly pink inside. Remove from the heat and place on kitchen paper.

Put the cooked tomatoes in a medium saucepan over a low heat. Throw in the meatballs and add enough cream to loosen the sauce. Cook the pasta in well-salted water until al dente (a matter of three or four minutes) and toss it through the sauce with the basil. Serve at once with a few grinds of pepper and plenty of parmesan or pecorino.


  1. I'm sitting here just thinking about how much I'm dying for a decent bowl of pasta and you come up with this! gah! looks DELICIOUS! :)

  2. Perfect amount of sauce. These would be great with a classic half and half pork and veal mince mixture. Now that really is how my mamma makes it!

  3. Looks delicious! Will have to give this recipe a try. I had always sworn by Nigella's pasta and meatball sauce recipe (like Graphic Foodie suggested she uses half beef and half pork) but it can be a bit too "saucy" and I love the idea of using fresh tomatoes rather than passata.

  4. Custard THEN meatballs. Mr Thring, with these posts you are really spoiling us...

  5. Looks fabulous! I really love the idea of using fresh tomatoes, perfect for light summer eating.

  6. I don't have a Microplane - only a grater from Tesco's. Can I still make this?

  7. Oooh, thought that pasta was homemade for a second - it looks fab!

  8. Catty - Thanks!

    Graphic Foodie - Yes, definitely, half pork half beef in large quantities - with 250g mince it's impractical.

    Nordic Nibbler - Yeah, you don't want to overdo the sauce.

    The Shed - Ha! Thanks.

    George - They make all the difference.

    Patrick - I should think so.

    Su-Lin - I wish! Thanks.

  9. Phoo-WAR! That looks delicious. A perfect summer pasta. I've really taken to draining the pasta a little earlier recently and lobbing it in with the sauce while still on the heat, stirring it until it's cooked and adding a little pasta water if needed; it gives it a lovely silky quality.

    Massive pasta craving now.

  10. Wonderful dish. I love the restrained use of ingredients to make up the sauce.

  11. Lizzie - Thanks. Yeah I often do that too.

    TasteofBeirut - Thank you!