The sauce here is comprised of cherry tomatoes left to their own devices slowly softening into garlic, thyme and butter while the meatballs or polpette use sausage meat injected with fennel seeds and the bite of chilli. A dream dinner.
50ml olive oil
500g cherry tomatoes, halved
2 sprigs thyme, leaves removed
2 garlic cloves, sliced
500g sausage meat
1 tsp chilli flakes
2 tsp fennel seeds, roughly crushed
1tsp olive oil
Handful of basil leaves
Grated Parmesan cheese
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Add the butter and oil to a sauté pan over a low heat. Once melted, add the tomatoes, thyme and garlic. Allow to simmer over a low heat for 15-20 minutes until the tomatoes have softened completely. Use a fork to lightly press the tomatoes down.
2. Mix all the ingredients for the polpette, apart from the oil in a medium-sized bowl. Using damp hands, shape into 28 meatballs, about the size of a walnut.
3. Add oil to another pan over medium heat and fry the meatballs for 10-15 minutes, tossing occasionally to brown all sides. While they are cooking, cook the pasta.
4. Bring a large pot of water to the boil. Salt the water well and add the pasta. Cook for 10-12 minutes or according to packet instructions until al dente.
5. Transfer the rough tomato sauce to the meatballs and bring to a steady simmer until the meatballs get nicely coated. 6. Using tongs, transfer the cooked pasta to the sauce and toss through. Serve sprinkled with basil leaves and grated Parmesan.
One of my favourite experiences making TV shows was filming the series Grandma's Boy across Italy in 2014. During the eight-week shoot I travelled from the north to the south, cooking with Italian grandmothers and discovering the secrets to their regional home cooking. I learned just how passionate Italians are about food.