Italian inspired meatballs

Are these the ultimate meatballs? Matt Tebbutt laces his minced veal with sage and ricotta for extra indulgence, then serves with a basil-infused tomato sauce
By Matt Tebbutt
Italian inspired meatballs
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 4
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes plus refrigeration
  • Effort: easy


For the meatballs

  • 300 g ricotta cheese
  • 500 g minced veal
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped sage
  • pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
  • 4 tbsp finely grated parmesan, rind reserved
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • glug olive oil

For the tomato sauce

  • olive oil
  • 1 banana shallot, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 x 400 g tins plum tomatoes
  • 1 bunch basil, shredded, stalks reserved
  • 500 g best quality dried linguine, cooked until al dente
  • freshly grated parmesan, to serve


1. For the meatballs: mix all the ingredients together until well distributed and combined. At this point you can check the seasoning and flavours by cooking a little bit of the mix in a small pan if you like, although it's not essential. Adjust the seasoning as necessary.

2. Roll the meatball mix into small balls, you could make as many as 40 from this recipe depending on the size you make. Chill until you are ready to cook them.

3. In a wide frying pan heat a good glug of oil and sauté the shallots and garlic until lightly golden. Add the parmesan rind, tinned tomatoes and basil stalks, season and cook over a medium heat simmering for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and blitz with a hand blender until smooth, removing the basil stalks and parmesan rind before you do so. Return this to the pan, taste and adjust the seasoning and continue to cook until reduced to desired consistency.

4. Meanwhile brown the meat balls in an oiled pan and coloured on all sides and almost cooked through. Transfer to the tomato sauce along with any cooking juices. Continue to cook for a further five minutes. Drain the pasta and drizzle with olive oil and shredded basil, tossing in the pan before serving. Serve the meatballs on top of the pasta and garnish with a little more shredded basil and some parmesan.

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