SOME of the tastiest dishes are often those which take little time to prepare and have the fewest ingredients. When it comes to feeding the family or a having a group of friends round for dinner I’m all in favour of preparing something quick and easy without compromising on taste.

Meatballs are one of my go-to recipes at times like these and a great example of fresh, home-cooked ‘fast’ food which are loved the world over. Meatballs are served in one form or another in many different countries across the globe.

They can be added to soups and stews, cooked in a sauce or simply fried or baked and served with pasta, rice or potatoes. Italian meatballs combine pork and beef mince, in Greece they are usually made with lamb and in Turkey they are often called kofte and come in more than 50 different varieties.

My meatballs use four ingredients – beef, onion and garlic plus an egg to bind everything together. What could be easier?

Meatballs can also be made a big batch and frozen which is ideal if you’ve got minimal time to cook during the week.

My favourite way to serve them is with a lovely, rich tomato sauce over some linguine or spaghetti. Use good quality plum tomatoes for this sauce and plenty of fresh basil because it will really enhance the flavour of the dish.

Serve these with some homemade garlic bread, a sprinkling of parmesan cheese. As always, be sure to use good quality beef or steak mince as this will give you the best flavour.

Linguine and meatballs

(serves 6)

900g minced beef

2 onions, finely chopped

6 cloves garlic, crushed

2 eggs, beaten

2 tins plum tomatoes in juice

Fresh basil

2 tbsp flour

500g dried linguini or spaghetti

Olive oil

Fresh, grated parmesan cheese to serve

Pre heat oven to 180c/350F/Gas 4.

Heat a little olive oil in a frying pan and gently sweat half the onions and half the garlic for a few minutes until soft and translucent.

Place the mince into a large bowl and add the cooked onions and garlic. Season with salt and pepper and add the eggs, mixing everything together thoroughly. Mould into golf ball sized meatballs and refrigerate for at least 30mins.

Meanwhile, sweat the remaining onions and garlic in a pan. Add the plum tomatoes and juice and slowly bring to the boil before reducing the heat and simmering for five minutes.

Season with salt and pepper and add the basil. Using a whisk, beat the tomatoes to create a thick sauce consistency and pour into a large ovenproof dish.

Heat a little oil in a pan over a high heat. Lightly dust the meatballs with flour and cook for a few minutes until browned on all sides. Add these to the tomato sauce and place in the oven for 30mins.

Half way through cooking, bring a pan of lightly salted water to the boil before adding the pasta. Cook for 10 minutes, or according to the instructions on the pack. Drain and mix into the meatballs and tomato sauce. Serve with a sprinkling of parmesan cheese.