Meatballs in Tomato Sauce with Fresh Basil



1 lb (500 g) lean ground pork
1 lb (500 g) lean ground beef or veal
1 lb (500 g) lean ground chicken or turkey
1 egg
1 cup (250 mL) fresh Italian or French bread crumbs
½ cup (125 mL) water
½ cup (125 mL) grated Parmesan or Romano
2 tbsp (30 mL) finely chopped fresh basil
2 tsp (10 mL) dried oregano
1 tsp (5 mL) salt
½ tsp (2 mL) freshly ground black pepper


2 tbsp (30 mL) olive oil
4 large garlic cloves, minced
2 28-oz (796 mL) cans crushed or diced tomatoes
1 large bay leaf
1 tsp (5 mL) dried oregano
1 tsp (5 mL) granulated sugar
½ tsp (2 mL) salt
½ cup (125 mL) chopped fresh basil
¼ cup (60 mL) finely grated Parmesan or Romano
½ tsp (2 mL) freshly ground black pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 450°F (230°C). Grease a large rimmed baking sheet or coat it with cooking spray. In a large bowl, combine pork, beef and chicken. Add egg, bread crumbs, water, Parmesan, basil, oregano, salt and pepper. Work mixture using your hands until thoroughly combined. Form mixture into small balls about 1 inch (2.5 cm) in diameter. Place slightly apart on baking sheet. Bake in two batches if necessary. Bake for 15 minutes (10 minutes in a convection oven), or until meatballs are lightly browned.
  2. To make sauce, heat oil in a large pot. Add garlic. Sauté for 2 minutes or until fragrant. Add tomatoes (including liquid), bay leaf, oregano, sugar and salt. Bring to a boil, stirring often. Add meatballs plus juices from baking sheet. Reduce heat and simmer for 1–1 ½ hours or until sauce is thick. Remove bay leaf and discard. If making ahead, cover and refrigerate for 2–3 days or freeze.
  3. Stir basil, Parmesan and pepper into heated sauce. Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve with pasta, or stuff meatballs into crusty Italian rolls.


Serves 8



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