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  • 4 slices white bread
  • 250 ml milk
  • 1 onion, grated
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 100 g pine nuts, chopped
  • 500 g beef mince
  • 200 g pork mince
  • 60 g Italian parsley
  • 10 g thyme, chopped
  • 60 g Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 t lemon zest
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • For the Italian fresh tomato sauce
  • 12 ripe tomatoes, cut in half lengthways
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 leeks, chopped
  • 65 ml olive oil
  • 2 T fresh thyme
  • 1 x 400 g canned, chopped tomatoes
  • 2 t tomato puree
  • 125 ml white wine
  • 1 T brown sugar
  • 2 T fresh basil, chopped
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Soak the bread in the milk and drain off any extra liquid. Mix together with all the ingredients and season to taste.

Roll into medium sized balls and place on a tray or dish. Cover and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Heat a little olive oil in a frying pan and cook over a medium heat until brown on both sides. Rather cook off in batches so that the pan is not to full.

If you are adding them to a sauce then don’t overcook them as they will cook again in the sauce which should be on a gentle simmer for 10 minutes.

To make the sauce: Preheat oven to 180C and place tomatoes and leeks on a baking tray with the garlic and thyme, drizzle with olive oil. Roast for 30 minutes until soft then place in a saucepan together with remaining ingredients and simmer for 30 minutes.

Season to taste.

Cook's tip: Try not buy extra lean mince for this one as you need a bit of extra fat for the juiciness.They are great stuffed into a warmed pita pocket with salad and hummus or served with creamy mashed potatoes and a thick onion gravy.

The meatballs are always best made the day before so that the flavours can develop better, but don’t that let you dissuade you from making them just before serving - they will still be  delicious.

TASTE's take

Abigail created this recipe for mini meatballs, called polpette in Italian, in celebration of the movie Big Night, starring Stanely Tucci and featuring the extravagent Italian dish, Timpano. Read more about it here.

Abigail Donnelly

Recipe by: Abigail Donnelly

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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