Meatballs in Tomato Sauce

Tonight for dinner we had one of my sons’ favourite meals – meatballs in tomato sauce.  All kids seem to love meatballs.   I have to say I am quite partial to them too as they are unbelievably quick, very tasty and cheap to make, especially if, like me, you keep breadcrumbs in the freezer and use the dregs of any wine you have knocking about in the fridge.  I know many chefs say you shouldn’t use wine for cooking that you wouldn’t drink but I really think this is a bit OTT.   For drinking I prefer a nice NZ Sauvignon but for cooking I think most bottles on ‘special’ for €5.99 in the local offie are perfectly fine for slugging into a sauce or casserole.  Provided you are not a regular meths drinker or buy stuff that would strip the enamel off your teeth then I think it is fine to use a cheapie bottle of wine for cooking. You can of course leave the wine out entirely if you prefer but I think it does give a richer sauce.  The quantities below serve 3 (if you are feeding my boys) or 4 normal people.

Meatballs (makes approx. 16 medium or 12 large)

  • 1lb mince beef
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 50g fresh breadcrumbs
  • 50g finely grated parmesan
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsely
  • 1 beaten egg
  • large pinch each of black pepper and salt
  • olive oil

Place all of the ingredients in a large mixing bowl.

Mix well together with hands and shape in to ping-pong sized balls.

Heat oil in a frying pan and brown meatballs well on each side until almost crusty.  Remove from pan and place to one side in a large pot or casserole.   Do not wash the frying pan as you will now use this for your sauce.


Tomato Sauce

  • glug of olive oil
  • 1 small onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • pinch salt and black pepper
  • 3rd of a bottle of wine (red or white – I usually use white, I think it is lighter and it is usually what I have to hand)
  • 1 bottle of Passata
  • pinch of sugar (to taste)
  • chopped fresh basil

In the same frying pan that you used for the meatballs heat the olive oil and fry the onions on a low heat until softened, scraping up all of the bits of meat on the bottom of the pan.  When the onions are soft add the crushed garlic, dried basil, salt and pepper and cook only for a minute.

Then add the wine and turn up the heat.  Simmer until reduced by half.

Add the Passata and stir, making sure the wine and onions are mixed through.  Add a pinch of sugar and taste to make sure it is not too tart.

Pour the sauce over the meatballs, cover pot and continue to cook on a low heat for approx. 30/40 minutes until meatballs are cooked through.

Serve with your favourite pasta and garnish with the chopped basil.


  1. Just came across le new blog, missus – it’s great, congrats! Delighted that you have decided to start one.

    Those meatballs look so yum.

    • Hi Lynnie – thanks so much. I am really glad I did it instead of just thinking about it. Many of you ladies on have been very inspirational! Yes I am quite pleased with that pic of the meatballs… didn’t think my little Fuji FinePix was capable! x

  2. hey i know that you need the egg to keep the balls together but can you add in your own combo of herbs etc. like i know you can but would you recommend it?

    • Hi Tcup. I think a combo of herbs such as oregano, parsley, basil, marjoram, thyme, teeny bit of sage would be good but not all as it might be a bit too much. The only herb I definitely wouldn’t use in this particular recipe is coriander – I’d only use that in lamb kofta meatballs.

  3. Your meatballs look so neat and tidy compared to mine!!! I didn’t have any basil so used a heap of chives & flat parsley instead. Coriander is the herb of the devil!!!

    • Ha Babaduck! I am a bit OCD about things like that – but I noticed on your post that we do the same placement in the pan in circles!!! I have to start at the bottom and work clockwise around so by the time they are all in the first one can be turned…. see very OCD :) Chives and parsley sounds yum. I love coriander but only in asian dishes – can’t understand it in anything else.