This recipe is a great one that can be enjoyed just about all year, simply by substituting other seasonal veggies in for the ones listed. NZ Venison is a wonderful source of lean protein, while being sustainably harvested, as well as the inherent benefits of being high in folate and iron. This dish is simple and can be prepared in under an hour. Hearty enough to enjoy in Winter, or during Summer on the deck with some nice bread to soak up the ragu sauce.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. In a large baking dish (ceramic works great) or heavy duty shallow oven- proof stock pot, mix onion, red bell peppers, carrot, tomatoes, zucchini, garlic, olive oil, salt, and chilli flakes. Place in oven and bake for 30 minutes, stirring midway. In the meantime, prepare venison meatballs.
For Meatballs: Mix venison, sea salt, worcestershire sauce, fennel, oregano, thyme, dried chilli flakes, and olive oil in large bowl. Form into medium size balls (just short of a golf ball). Place heavy duty skillet (cast iron is great) over medium high heat. Add 1/2 the olive oil and when hot, place half the balls in the skillet, making sure they are not crowded. After a couple minutes, check one to see if brown on bottom. If so, gently flip and cook for 1 minute (meatballs will continue cooking in the oven with ragu later) and remove to plate. Repeat with remaining meatballs and set aside.
After ragu has been in the oven for 30 minutes, remove and add can of tomatoes, brown sugar, and balsamic. Give a good stir and gently nestle meatballs in ragu, spooning some sauce over each ball. Return to oven and continue cooking for 10 more minutes. Remove from oven and test a meatball to make sure it is cooked through, with a small bit of pink in the very middle as they will continue cooking once removed from oven.
Serve ragu over gluten free spaghetti noodles and top with a pinch of fresh basil, if in season.