Italian Meatballs and Tomato Sauce

Italian meatballs

Allora ragazzi, it’s been a long time. By my count this is our second comeback (not to mention a back-to-back meatballs posting), and who knows whether or not this time we can be more consistent posters. Life just gets in the way, such as our awesome recent travels to Italy to celebrate CB’s birthday.meatball-mix

These meatballs couldn’t be more timely. CB and I came back from a sun-and-aperol-spritz soaked break to the Amalfi Coast a week ago and have slowly been coming to terms with being back in Blighty. It was also our amazing fortune that Aziz Ansari’s incredible Master of None was back on Netflix this week and the first episode was shot in beautiful Modena including lots of incredible pasta dishes that had us hungry for more (so much more that we binged the entire series by 3pm on Saturday afternoon, YIKES).


As we move into (what passes for) Summer in London, it might not seem instinctive to pull out the mixing bowl and get your polpette on, but trust me on this: there is never a day so warm that a bowl of these meatballs won’t fill an emotional void. And between me and you? Brexit Britain needs as many reminders of continental culinary genius as it can get: meatballs means meatballs.


Serves 4-5. This recipe has been adapted from RecipeTinEats.


For the Meatballs
3 slices white bread (crusts removed, blitz into breadcrumbs)
1/2 medium-large onion (grated)
250g pork mince (5% fat)
350g beef mince (5% fat)
1 egg
2/3 small bunch parsley leaves (finely chopped – retain the final third to garnish the dish)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic (minced)
40g parmesan (grated)
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Tomato sauce
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 medium-large onion (diced)
2 cloves garlic (minced)
680-700g plain tomato passata
100ml water
1 tsp dried chilli flakes
1 tsp Italian mixed herbs (parsley, basil, thyme, oregano)
1/2 tsp oregano
season to taste

To serve
75g pasta per person
Chopped parsley
Grated parmesan


  1. To make the meatballs heat up the olive oil in a large frying pan and add the minced garlic. The idea here is to take away some of the rawness of the garlic by cooking it first – be careful not to let it catch and don’t skip this step because your friends and co-workers won’t thank you for it on the morrow.
  2. While the garlic is cooking, mix the grated onion and breadcrumbs in a large bowl. Once the breadcrumbs are soaked with the moisture of the onion, add the remaining meatball ingredients – including the garlic and oil from the pan. Use your hands to distribute the mixture evenly.
  3. Roll the mixture into meatballs – use approximately 1 tbsp mixture per ball. In the pan used for the garlic, heat up 1 tbsp oil and brown the meatballs. Once browned move the meatballs out of the pan.
  4. Now onto the sauce. In the same pan heat a little more oil and fry the onions and garlic for a few minutes – be careful not to let the garlic catch. Add the passata, water, chilli and mixed herbs and bring to the boil.
  5. Add the meatballs back into the pan and cook the dish for a further 10 minutes on a medium heat. Season to taste and serve with pasta, parsley and grated parmesan.

Author: Mandi

Twentysomethings in London trying to recreate some of the magic of professional cooking with a fraction of the budget and none of the skill.

3 thoughts

  1. It’s always time to get your polpette on, especially to accompany Master of None. How do you make sure they’re not dry? I find every meatball I try ends up a bit heavy, which isn’t much fun.

    1. It’s the moist onion soaking into the breadcrumbs this time my dearest Bogie. But an egg added into the mix with or without breadcrumbs is also a winner.

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