Adapted from The British Cookbook - The Best of British Food

An Italian favourite that's ideal for hassle-free entertaining & all-time favourite; especially if you have a  mixed age group or lots of people to feed.  It looks, smells and tastes terrific. kids love it and it's kind to the family budget.  Plus, most of the preparation can be done in advance and the final cooking doesn't take very long.  Perfectto!


  • 2 slices crustless white bread
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 400 g/14 oz canned  chopped tomatoes
  • 8 basil leaves
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 450 g/1 lb minced beef
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh basil
  • 350 g/12 oz dried spaghetti
  • Salt & pepper
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, to serve


  1. Place the bread in a shallow dish and add just enough water to cover.  Soak for 5 minutes then drain and squeeze the bread to remove all the liquid.
  2. Heat the oil in a saucepan, add the onion and half the garlic and cook over a medium heat, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes.Add the tomatoes with their juice, basil leaves, tomato puree and sugar and season with salt and pepper.  Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally for 20 minutes until thickened and pulpy.
  3. Mix the bread, beef, eggs, remaining herbs and garlic and 1/2 tsp of salt by hand in a large mixing bowl.  Roll small pieces of the meat mixture into balls.  Drop the meatballs into the tomato sauce, cover the saucepan and cook over a medium heat for 30 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti in a saucepan of lightly salted boiling water for 10 minutes, or until al dente. Drain well.
  5. Transfer the spaghetti to a large shallow serving bowl.  Arrange the meatballs and sauce on top.  Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of freshly grated parmesan cheese over the top and serve with more cheese in a bowl on the side.


Al Dente literally means "to the tooth" and describes the texture of cooked pasta.  The easiest way to test if the spaghetti is cooked to perfection is to remove a small piece from the saucepan and bite it between your front teeth.  It should be tender but still firm to the bite.  Pasta should never simmer, but boil quite vigorously. Bring a large saucepan of lightly salted water to the boil.  Add the spaghetti, curling it into the water as it softens.  Return to the boil and begin timing the cooking from this point.  Start testing whether it is al dente about 2 minutes before the specified cooking time.  Do not leave pasta standing around before serving or it will become tough and unpleasant.  If, for some reason, the sauce is not ready, toss the spaghetti with a little olive oil or butter and keep warm.

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