Recipes Main Courses Beef and Veal Meatballs in Tomato Sauce

Meatballs in Tomato Sauce

Prep Time: 35 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 12

Using a trio of meats is perfect for these tender meatballs. Beef adds hearty flavor, while pork and veal provide a natural sweetness. For the perfect blend, use an equal amount of each. Unlike most recipes that call for browning the meatballs, this one braises them in an herbed tomato sauce. The meatballs and sauce can be prepared a day ahead and refrigerated, then reheated before serving.


For the meatballs:

  • 2 lb. (1 kg) mixed ground beef, pork and veal
  • 1 egg
  • 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup (1 oz./30 g) fresh bread crumbs or panko
  • 1/4 cup (1 oz./30 g) pine nuts, toasted
  • 1/4 cup (1 oz./30 g) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Romano
  • 2 Tbs. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 Tbs. chopped fresh oregano
  • 1 Tbs. chopped fresh basil
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper

  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 can (28 oz./875 g) diced tomatoes with juices
  • 1/2 cup (4 fl. oz./125 ml) dry white wine
  • 2 Tbs. chopped fresh basil (optional)


To make the meatballs, in a large bowl, combine the ground meats, egg, onion, bread crumbs, pine nuts, cheese, parsley, oregano and basil. Season with the salt and pepper. Using your hands, mix gently but thoroughly. Form the mixture into meatballs about 2 inches (5 cm) in diameter.

To make the sauce, in a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Stir in the tomatoes with their juices and the wine and bring to a simmer. Lower the meatballs into the sauce, gently spooning the sauce over them. Bring to a simmer, reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and cook until the meatballs are firm and cooked through, 20 to 30 minutes.

Remove from the heat and let stand for 5 minutes. Stir in the basil. Transfer the meatballs and tomato sauce to a large shallow bowl and serve immediately. Serves 4.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma One Pot of the Day, by Kate McMillan (Weldon Owen, 2012).