29 Nov Meatballs in Tomato Sauce

Small, Substantial

Meatballs in Tomato Sauce

29 November 2022

PREP. TIME: 20 MIN     -   Chill time - minimum 1 hour - COOK: 15 min   -    Serves: 4- 6

These delicious meatballs are simple to make and can be served as part of a meze, - hot or cold, with rice and tzatziki or tossed through spaghetti for an all time favourite of Spaghetti and Meatballs.

I prefer to bake the meatballs in the oven until almost cooked and then heat them through the tomato sauce.. They should not be drowning in tomato sauce.

If you prefer to cook the meatballs on top of the stove - cook them in a small amount of oil in a deep, heavy based pan and fry until golden - 5 - 10 minutes.

Either way - you need to allow time for the formed meatballs to chill in the fridge for at least an hour before cooking them.

Recipe Template


500g finely ground beef chuck

250g finely ground pork

1 large brown onion

2 cloves garlic

1 large tomato

1/2 bunch parsley

1 - 2 teaspoons dried oregano

2 slices white bread - crusts removed.


3/4 cup finely grated pecorino or grana padano cheese

1 egg 

Olive oil

500 ml Thick tomato Sauce

500 ml Thick Tomato Sauce

750 g skinned / bottled / tinned tomatoes

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 cloves garlic - whole, unpeeled

2 teaspoons dried oregano

Salt and Pepper to season


Large mixing bowl

Smaller bowl for the bread and milk

Chopping board and kitchen knife


Baking dish that will fit in the fridge or frypan

Silicone liner or baking paper

Saucepan for the tomato sauce

Shallow bowl


Step 1: In Advance

Unwrap the meat from the butcher and place it in a bowl.

Mix with a dessertspoon of fine sea salt and refrigerate uncovered or until ready to use.

Step 2 - Prep for the Meatballs

Cover the bread with milk and and soak for about 10 minutes. 

Squeeze well before adding it to the mixture - breaking it up as you go.

To grate the onion and tomato - cut each in half and grate each half with the cut side facing the coarse blade of the grater.

You should end up with the skin in your hand and no skin in the mixture.

Grate the cheese finely.

Peel the garlic and chop finely or grind to a paste with some salt

Rinse and chop the parsley 

Line an oven tray with a silicone sheet or oil lightly and place a sheet of baking paper on top.

Preheat the oven to 210C

Step 3 - Prepare the Meatball Mixture

Place the salted meats in a large mixing bowl.

Add the grated onion and tomato, the cheese and the garlic - stir well.

Add the soaked bread, the egg, and the chopped parsley.

Mix well to combine without overhandling.
Season with plenty of salt and pepper.

Add the oregano and 1/4 cup olive oil and stir to combine.

Place some olive oil in a shallow bowl - dip the palms of your hands in the oil and rub into your hands like hand cream.

Take a spoonful of the mixture roll into balls the size of a large walnut - I like 40g size meatballs but you can choose what suits you best.

Roll the ball well in your oiled hands - eliminating any creases.

Arrange the meatballs on the tray evenly spaced apart.

Step 4 - Chill

Place the meatballs into the fridge and chill uncovered for at least one hour or even overnight. This allows the meatballs to set.

Step 5 - Make the Tomato Sauce

While the meatballs are chilling - prepare the tomato sauce.
Place the whole garlic cloves and oregano and olive oil in a pan over medium heat.

Heat gently until the garlic colours and becomes aromatic.

Turn up the heat and add the tomatoes - they will spit as they hit the hot oil so stand back and try and get as many in at once to quickly reduce the temperature of the oil.

Stir occassionally - cooking over high heat until the tomatoes are broken down and amalgamated with the oil..
Taste and season with salt and pepper.

Reduce the heat to a simmer and stirring occassionally - reduce the sauce so it is rich and thick - you need about 500ml.

Taste and season again.

Step 5 - Cook

Place the tray in the middle of the preheated oven (210c) and cook for about 12 minutes - the meatballs should be slightly under cooked as they finish cooking when reheated in the tomato sauce.

Remove from the oven and set aside.

Step 6 - Assembly

Transfer the meatballs to the tomato sauce to warm through.

Step 7 To Serve

Serve the meatballs warm or at room temperature with thick yoghurt or tzatziki.

Alternatively - while the tomato sauce is cooking - cook 500g spaghetti in boiling salted water; Toss the cooked spaghetti through the meatballs and tomato sauce and serve immediately with extra grated cheese.


Adapted by Elizabeth Peddey from recipes by The Mediterranean Diet by Katherine Itsiopolous

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