Meatballs with Artichokes, Green Olives and Sage

From Geoff Last

2013 Jul/Aug


  • 1/2 c. olive oil
  • 3 large onions, diced
  • 2 lbs. ground meat (veal, beef, pork or a combination of your choices)
  • 1/2 c. panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 t. crushed chiles
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 T. chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • salt and pepper
  • 1-1/2 c. jarred artichoke hearts, drained (2 small jars or 1 large)
  • 2 c. cherry tomatoes
  • 1 c. pitted large green olives (I usually use the spiced ones)
  • 2 T. coarsely chopped fresh sage
  • juice of 2 lemons
  • 1/2 c. chicken stock
  • Garnish: 
    grated parmesan cheese and flat-leaf parsley


Preheat oven to 350°F. Warm 1/4 c. olive oil in a large skillet and add the onions, cooking over low heat for a half hour until they start to turn golden and caramelize (but not browned).

While the onions are cooking, make the meatballs. In a large bowl, combine the ground meat, breadcrumbs, chiles, eggs and parsley, and season liberally with salt and pepper. When the onions are just about done, scoop a rough 1/3 c. of them out and add to the ground meat mixture. Combine well with your hands and form about 16 large golf ball-sized meatballs. Flatten them slightly, then warm the remaining 1/4 c. of oil in a large skillet and brown the meatballs on both sides over medium heat (in two batches so you don’t crowd them), about
5 min. per side.

Transfer the remaining onions to a roasting pan, spreading them out to form a bed for the meatballs. Place the meatballs in the roasting pan, distributing them evenly. Toss the artichokes, tomatoes, olives, sage and lemon juice together in a bowl, season with salt and pepper and distribute the vegetables over and around the meatballs. Add the chicken stock to the pan, cover with foil and roast one hour. Serve with pappardelle or other long pasta noodles, which have been tossed with butter and parmesan cheese. I like to place the noodles on a large platter and then ladle the meatball vegetable mixture over top (make sure you get all the juices) and serve family style. I usually garnish the dish with some fresh grated parmesan and flat-leaf parsley. Serves 4.