Italian meatballs with tomato sauce

July 13, 2010 (Last Updated: January 11, 2019)
Italian meatballs with tomato sauce recipe

If you’ve never had spaghetti and Italian meatballs with tomato sauce, you’ve missed out on a suppertime classic. And with this recipe, you’ll never go for store-bought meatballs again! 

Italian meatballs with tomato sauce

Serves: 4
Cooking Time: 1 hr


  • 190ml (¾ cup) olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 100g pine nuts, roughly chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 45ml (3 tbsp) fresh flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
  • 15ml (1 tbsp) fresh basil or rosemary, roughly chopped
  • 10ml (2 tsp) fennel seeds, ground 250g ricotta
  • 90ml (1/3 cup) fresh breadcrumbs
  • 45ml (3 tbsp) Parmesan, freshly grated
  • zest of 1 large lemon
  • 1 large egg
  • 500g minced pork or beef
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Sauce

  • 2 x 410g tins Italian chopped tomatoes
  • 100ml wine
  • 20ml (4 tsp) fresh basil, chopped
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste



Heat half the oil in a saucepan and sauté the onion and pine nuts until the onion is soft and the pine nuts are light brown. Add the garlic, cook for a few more minutes and set aside.


Place the herbs, fennel, ricotta, breadcrumbs, Parmesan, zest and egg in a bowl and add the mince. Add the onion mixture and season. Mix well to combine.


To make the meatballs, roll about 50g of the mince mixture at a time into small balls. Heat the remaining oil in a large saucepan and fry the meatballs until golden.


To make the sauce, simmer the tomatoes, wine and basil on medium heat in a saucepan until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Season, add the meatballs and reduce the heat to a gentle simmer. Cover and cook for a further 10 minutes.


Remove the meatball sauce from the heat and leave it to stand for 10 minutes before serving with hot pasta of your choice.


To drink: Santa Alicia Reserva Merlot 2008 (Chile), because a rustic dish needs a rustic wine: this is full of black fruits, cocoa and herbs.


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