Winter has come. Now is the time to stay indoors with your friends or family and eat heartily until you fall asleep. Of course, if you have neither friends nor family with whom to eat, I’m sure there are plenty of woodland creatures just dying for a warm meal. Invite them to sit by the hearth and keep you company in these dark times. 


  • 400g beef mince
  • 1 litre excellent quality tomato passata
  • 400ml vegetable stock
  • 125ml white wine
  • 3 carrots
  • 2 celery stalks
  • Fresh basil
  • Salt and pepper to season
  • Parmesan, grated
  • 500g pasta mezze maniche (or as proximate a pasta as you can find)


If you have a slow cooker, this will be easy and slow. If not this will be quick, but with one minor additional inconvenience: namely you’ll have to boil the carrots and celery for 10 minutes to make them soft. 

This recipe is fairly straightforward. Simply combine the passata; stock; wine; vegetables; basil and seasoning in your slow cooker/ pot. If you have a slow cooker, set it on low for 8 hours. If you have a pot, simmer for 45 minutes. 

At the end of either method, blend the sauce with a hand blender. It should be smooth with no bits of veg floating about. 

This is where things get interesting. While the sauce is cooling down, use the beef mince to make meatballs. Obviously, the bigger you make the meatballs, the fewer you will have to consume. You can make as many as you so desire, you’re the best judge of how many will be consumed. 

Once you’ve formed your balls, put them in a bowl with some of the sauce. Let them marinate for at least one hour, though the best results come after a few hours of marinating.

When you’re ready, fry the content of your ball bowl in some olive oil. Cooking your pasta at the same time as frying the meatballs in the sauce is most efficient. You can add some more sauce if you want a more liquid final product. I like for the sauce to be a little more condensed. Add salt and pepper as you see fit. The frying should take no longer than 5 minutes, unless you made some really quite sizeable meatballs. 

Combine the now-combined meatball and sauce medley with your drained pasta and serve immediately. Sprinkle some parmesan over the top for extra wow-factor. 

A tip: when re-heating this dish, fry the combined meatballs and pasta in a little olive oil. When the pan is hot, add a splash of cooking wine (cheap wine) and cover. The ensuing steamed contents of the pan will astound and delight you even more than the original dish. You can steam with either red or white wine, depending on your mood. 

Let me know what you think of this recipe!