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Beef Meatballs baked in Napoletana Sauce

This is my absolute comfort food. It brings back memories of long lunches around my grandmother’s food-laden table on a Sunday afternoon where you would leave feeling completely nourished, in every sense of the word.

These are delicious served with thick slices of bread and a crisp green salad. You could also mix them through a bowl of pasta. Leftovers can be lightly warmed and tucked into a crunchy roll for a super satisfying lunch. ~ Lana


For the meatballs:
180g day-old white bread, crusts removed, roughly torn into pieces
1/2 cup milk
1kg beef mince
Small bunch parsley (about 3 1/2 tablespoon), finely chopped
2 eggs
2 cloves garlic
60g parmesan, grated
olive oil, for frying

For the Napoletana sauce:
2 tablespoons olive oil
2-3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
700ml tomato passata
small handful of basil, leaves removed
salt and pepper, to taste

To finish:
80g Mozzarella cheese, cut into smallish cubes
Extra basil leaves, to serve

1. To make the meatballs, place the torn pieces of bread into a bowl and top with the milk. Scrunch gently with your hands so the bread is completely soaked through then set aside for a few minutes, until all the liquid has been absorbed

2. Place milky bread and the rest of the meatball ingredients (except for the olive oil) into a large bowl and, using your hands, mix together thoroughly.

3. Roll into walnut sized balls and place onto a tray and set aside.

4. To make the sauce, place the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cooked until fragrant (30 seconds-1 minute), stirring constantly.

5. Pour in the passata, add the basil leaves and salt and pepper, to taste.

6. Let the sauce cook over a medium heat for about 20 minutes.

7. Preheat oven to 180˚C (160˚C fan-forced).

8. While the sauce is simmering away, cook your meatballs. Place a large frying pan over medium heat. Pour in enough olive oil to cover the base of the pan. Carefully add the meatballs. Cook on all sides until browned, rotating gently as they become golden (they don’t have to be cooked through at this stage, as they will be finished off in the oven). You may have to fry the meatballs in batches as you shouldn’t overcrowd the pan.

9. Place the browned meatballs into a large oven-proof dish. Cover with the Napoletana sauce, making sure they are fully coated on all sides. Cover well with foil and place into the oven.

10. After 30 minutes, remove the meatballs from the oven. Take off the foil and evenly distribute the mozzarella over the top. Increase the oven temperature to 200˚C (180˚C fan-forced). Return the dish to the oven, uncovered, and cook for a further 10-15 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and lightly golden.

11. Let sit for about 10 minutes then serve topped with some extra basil leaves scattered on top, some crunchy bread and a crisp green salad.

beef meatballs

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