First is my tomato meatball ragu — a go-to dinner in the Dundon household. Either make it in the morning and reheat it when hunger strikes, or for slow cooker lovers, prepare it with half the liquid listed in the ingredients, stick it on low, and it’ll be ready when you get home in the afternoon.
Ready-made meatballs from the supermarket are a handy option for speeding the process up even more. But I prefer to make mine from scratch so that I can sneakily add a little extra parmesan from time to time.
My next recipe, starring udon noodles and teriyaki-glazed sausages, fuses Asian flavours with local Irish ingredients. It’s a great meal for families and students alike, as it won’t break the bank and is as tasty as it is filling.
Ingredients (serves 4): ■ 300g minced beef ■ 200g minced pork ■ 50g breadcrumbs ■ 2 tbsp milk ■ 2 tbsp olive oil ■ 1 onion, chopped ■ 1 carrot, chopped ■ 2 garlic cloves, chopped ■ 1 tbsp tomato puree ■ 200g cherry tomatoes, halved ■ 2 tins chopped tomatoes ■ 200ml vegetable stock ■ 1 tsp brown sugar (optional) ■ 4 tbsp basil leaves, chopped (optional) ■ 250g spaghetti ■ 4 tbsp parmesan, grated ■ Salt and pepper Method: 1. In a bowl, place the minced beef, pork, breadcrumbs and milk. Season with a little salt and pepper. Divide the mixture into walnut-sized meatballs and place in the fridge for 20-30 minutes. 2. In a pan, over medium heat, drizzle some oil and add the meatballs. Fry for 2-3 minutes until lightly browned on all sides. Transfer into a dish until needed. 3. In the same pan, over medium heat, add the onion, carrot, and garlic and colour for 2 minutes. 4. Add the tomato puree, cherry tomatoes, tinned tomatoes, and stock and bring to a simmer. 5. Next, return the meatballs to the pan, cover with a lid and continue to simmer over low/medium heat for a further 8-10 minutes until cooked through. Check the seasoning and add a tablespoon of brown sugar if desired. 6. In the meantime, cook the pasta as per pack instructions. Drain and return to the saucepan with a few tablespoons of the cooking liquid, a drizzle of oil and half the grated parmesan. Toss well to combine and keep warm until ready to serve. 7. Divide the pasta into bowls and spoon a few meatballs and rich tomato sauce on top. Sprinkle with some parmesan and enjoy immediately. TOP TIP: For a flavoursome twist, try using red pesto instead of tomato puree in your meatball ragu, just be aware of allergies as many contain pine nuts or cashew nuts.
Ingredients (serves 4): ■ 200g udon noodles ■ 8 sausages, cut into bite-sized pieces ■ 200g button mushrooms, quartered ■ 1 onion, sliced ■ 2 garlic cloves, chopped ■ 200ml vegetable stock ■ Pinch of chilli flakes ■ 3 tbsp teriyaki sauce ■ 2 tbsp olive oil ■ Salt and pepper
Method: 1. In a saucepan, over medium heat, drizzle some oil and add the sausages. Sauté for 2-4 minutes. 2. Add the mushroom, onion, and garlic and sauté for a further 3-4 minutes until the vegetables are starting to colour. 3. Next, add the vegetable stock, chilli flakes and teriyaki sauce. Bring to a simmer, add the udon noodles and cover with a lid. Continue to simmer for 3-5 minutes. 4. Remove the lid, increase the heat and bring to the boil for 2 minutes, or until the liquid coats the meat and vegetables. 5. Remove from the heat, check the seasoning and serve while still warm. TOP TIP: Udon noodles are a great Asian staple for your store cupboard. Ready in minutes, they add substance to any meal without the usual go-to of potatoes or pasta, although boiled baby potatoes would also work well here.
TOP TIP: MAKING YOUR OWN TERIYAKI SAUCE IS SOY SIMPLE WITH THESE THREE STEPS
A LOT of teriyaki sauces or marinades are available in supermarkets but it is very easy to prepare if you have the ingredients at home. If you love Asian flavours, you probably have them already Over medium heat, bring 100ml dark soy sauce to the boil with 40g honey or brown sugar and 40ml mirin rice wine vinegar for a basic mixture. You can also add sesame seeds, sesame oil, ginger, chilli flakes and garlic to build the flavour, and a tablespoon of cornflour to thicken the final mixture if needed.