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Meatballs ½ cup fresh breadcrumbs ¼ cup milk 750g (about 1½ lb) minced (ground) beef 100g (3½ oz) ham, finely chopped 2 Tbsp freshly grated parmesan cheese 1 Tbsp chopped marjoram, or 1 Tbsp dried oregano Freshly grated nutmeg to taste 1 large clove garlic, peeled and crushed 1½ tsp salt Freshly ground black pepper 2 small free-range eggs, lightly beaten 3-5 Tbsp water 2 Tbsp olive oil 1 Tbsp butter Peppers & Onion 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil 2 large red onions, peeled and cut through the root into slim wedges 1 each yellow, red and green pepper (bell pepper / capsicum) 1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed 2 medium vine-ripened tomatoes, cut into large dice Salt Freshly ground black pepper Handful of basil leaves
1 Make the meatballs first. Put the crumbs in a large bowl and pour over the milk. Leave to soften while preparing the rest of the ingredients.
2 Add the minced beef, ham, parmesan, marjoram or oregano, nutmeg,garlic, salt, pepper to taste and eggs. Mix all together very thoroughly, then add enough water to loosen the mixture. The mixture should feel soft and a little sticky, clinging together but not tightly bound. Shape into small balls about the size of a walnut in a shell. The meatballs can be prepared ahead to this point; cover and refrigerate.
3 Next prepare the onions and peppers. Heat a medium-sized frying pan (skillet) with 2 tablespoons of the extra virgin oil over a medium heat. When hot, add the red onions and cook for 7-10 minutes, turning often, until wilting and starting to colour. Meanwhile, halve the peppers, remove the cores and seeds and cut them into chunks.
4 Tilt the pan and transfer the onions to a plate with a slotted spoon. Add the last tablespoon of oil to the pan and when it is hot add the peppers. Cook for 5 minutes, tossing often, until lightly charred. Return onions to pan, stir, cover pan with a lid, lower the heat, and cook 10 minutes more, stirring once or twice. Add garlic, cook briefly, stirring, then add the tomatoes and season with a good few pinches of salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Turn off the heat until the meatballs are ready.
5 When ready to cook the meatballs, heat oil in a large frying pan (skillet) over medium-high heat and when it is hot, add butter, let it sizzle a bit, then quickly add as many meatballs as will fit without overcrowding the pan. Cook, turning meatballs with two spoons, until browned all over.
6 As the meatballs are cooked, transfer them to the pan of peppers. When all the meatballs are cooked and added to the peppers, reheat everything until piping hot. Transfer to a heated serving dish and strew with basil leaves. Serve immediately.
Read all the tips for making meatballs here Meatball Tips