Italian meatballs

Italian meatballs

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  • 6
  • Easy
  • 30 minutes, plus 1 hour chilling time
  • 30 minutes


  • 4 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 500 g lean beef mince
  • 250 g ricotta cheese
  • 50 g breadcrumbs
  • 1 free-range egg
  • Zest of ½ lemon
  • 3 t ground fennel seeds
  • ½ t freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 t sea salt
  • 30 g flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 10 large fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
  • ¾ cup canola oil
  • Crusty ciabatta, for serving
  • Chianti, for serving
  • For the Napoletana sauce:
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, very finely chopped
  • 1 sweet red pepper, very finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 litre tomato purée (I like using the POMI brand)
  • Sea salt, to taste
  • ½ t black pepper
  • 15 large fresh basil leaves, chopped

Cooking Instructions

In a pan over a medium to low heat, heat the olive oil and gently fry the onion until soft and golden. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Transfer to a mixing bowl and allow to cool.

Add the remaining ingredients (except the canola oil, ciabatta and Chianti) to the oniongarlic mixture and mix well by hand. Chill for 1 hour, then, using your hands, roll into 50 g balls.

In a large pan over a medium heat, heat the canola oil and, when hot, fry the meatballs (taking mcare not to overcrowd the pan) until evenly browned.

Transfer the meatballs to a saucepan containing 1.2 litres of gently simmering Napoletana sauce and cook for 12 minutes. Serve immediately with ciabatta and a glass of Chianti.

To make the Napoletana sauce: In a saucepan over a medium to low heat, heat the olive oil and gently fry the onion and red pepper until soft and lightly browned.

Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomato purée and seasoning and simmer gently for 20 minutes, covered but stirring occasionally. Finally, stir through the basil and remove from the heat.

Giovanni’s notes: This recipe also makes a delicious sauce for freshly cooked penne or spaghetti served with grated Parmesan. The meatballs can be made into 10 g little balls and served with spaghetti. The kids love it.

Abigail Donnelly Recipe by: Abigail Donnelly
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Nothing excites Woolworths TASTE's Food Director quite as much as the challenge of dreaming up recipes with innovative new foods – or the thrill of creating deliciousness on a plate with the humblest of ingredients. With Abi by your side, you’ll be a cooking expert in no time at all.

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