By Dr. Karen Lindsay and Professor Fionnuala McAuliffe

Serves 4


450g lean minced pork

1 tsp finely chopped parsley

1 tsp thyme leaves

3 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed or finely chopped

1 egg, beaten

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tbsp olive oil

300g whole-wheat spaghetti

Grated parmesan cheese to serve

For the tomato sauce

1 tbsp olive oil

1 onion, peeled and sliced

1 clove of garlic, peeled and crushed

2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes

1 red pepper, deseeded and chopped

100g baby spinach leaves

1 tsp caster sugar

3 tsp finely chopped marjoram or 2 tsp finely chopped sage


  1. Place the minced pork, parsley, thyme, garlic and egg in a large bowl, season with salt and pepper and mix well together.
  2. Using wet hands, form the mixture into 16-20 tiny meatballs, each about 2cm in diameter and then place in the fridge until you are ready to cook them.
  3. To prepare the sauce, heat the oil in a large saucepan and cook the onion and garlic on a gentle heat for about 6 minutes until they are soft and slightly golden. Add the tomatoes, pepper, sugar and marjoram or sage and season with salt and pepper. Leaving the pan uncovered, simmer the sauce gently for about 30 minutes until thickened, then stir in the baby spinach leaves and allow to wilt.
  4. When ready to cook the meatballs, preheat the oven to 230°C/Fan 210°C/Gas mark 8. Pour the oil into a large frying pan on a medium heat, add the meatballs and fry for a minute all over until well browned. Transfer the meatballs to a roasting dish and cook in the oven for 10 minutes until fully cooked through.
  5. Meanwhile, bring a large saucepan of water to the boil, add the spaghetti and cook for 8-10 minutes then drain well and return to the saucepan.
  6. To serve, pour the sauce over the spaghetti and add the meatballs. Toss everything together and serve topped with grated parmesan.


Fionnuala McAuliffe is Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at National Maternity Hospital Dublin.

Dr. Karen Lindsay is a Postdoctural Fellow