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Italian Meatballs in Tomato Sauce

Italian Meatballs in Tomato Sauce

This isn’t the prettiest recipe I’ve ever featured, but it’s defnitely tasty! It’s another one from the Hairy Dieters recipe book.  I made the meatballs with lean minced beef and to be honest I prefer my lamb Cypriot meatball recipe, but this is good too… Plus, it was loved by 7 year olds and adults alike and it was healthy and low-fat, so what’s not to love?

Serves 4


  • 500g lean beef mince (less than 10% fat)
  • 1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled and finely grated
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 tsp oil
  • freshly ground black pepper


  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 400g chopped tomatoes
  • 100ml red wine
  • 200ml cold water


To make the meatballs, put the mince in a large bowl and add the onion, carrot, garlic, oregano, salt and lots of freshly ground black pepper. Mix with clean hands until everything is well combined, then shape the mixture into 24 small balls, they should be slightly larger than a walnut in its shell.

Pour the oil in a large non stick frying pan or sauté pan and fry the meatballs over a medium heat for 5 minutes. Keep turning and rolling the meatballs around the pan until lightly browned then transfer to a plate.

To make the sauce, pour the sunflower oil into a medium non stick saucepan and add the onion. Fry for 4 minutes, stirring regularly, then add the garlic and fry for 1 minute more.

Tip the tomatoes, red wine and water into the pan and bring to a gentle simmer. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring regularly. Add the browned meatballs to the sauce and bring back to a simmer.

Cover the pan loosely with a lid and leave the meatballs to simmer gently in the sauce for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. After 20 minutes, remove the lid and continue simmering gently for another 15-20 minutes or until the sauce is thick. Stir often and add a little extra water is the sauce reduces too quickly. Serve hot with a small portion of pasta or lots of freshly cooked vegetables.

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