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
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 200ºC. 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.
A summer way with spaghetti and meatballs [Recipe]