Tuna Meatballs with Tomato Sauce

2011 Jul/Aug

These meatballs are delicious served on their own, tapas style, or on top of a big bowl of spaghetti.



  • 1 lb. sustainably sourced fresh tuna
  • olive oil to taste
  • 1/2 c. pine nuts
  • 1 t. cinnamon
  • kosher salt and black pepper to taste
  • 1 t. fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • 1 small handful Italian parsley, chopped
  • 1/3 c. fresh breadcrumbs
  • 1/3 c. freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • zest and juice of one lemon


  • olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 t. fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • 2 400g tins of crushed San Marzano tomatoes
  • kosher salt and black pepper to taste
  • sherry vinegar
  • 1 small bunch Italian parsley, roughly chopped, to sprinkle
  • olive oil to drizzle


To make the sauce, place a large pan over medium heat, add a good drizzle of olive oil and sauté the onions and garlic until soft and translucent, 10 to 15 minutes. Add the rosemary and sauté for 1 minute before adding the tomatoes, salt and pepper. Simmer for 15 minutes and then taste, adding a splash of vinegar for a bit of tart sweetness.

While the tomato sauce is cooking, chop the tuna into a 1-inch dice. Preheat a large frying pan over medium high, add a drizzle of olive oil followed by the tuna, pine nuts and cinnamon. Season with salt and pepper and cook for 1 minute or so, until the tuna is just cooked on all sides. Transfer the tuna to a bowl and let it cool for about 5 minutes. Add the rosemary, parsley, breadcrumbs, parmesan, eggs, lemon zest and juice to the bowl. Gently scrunch the ingredients into the tuna, breaking the meat up with your hands, until it all comes together. Shape the tuna into meatballs slightly smaller than a golf ball. Place the finished meatballs on an oiled baking sheet and pop them into the fridge for about an hour.

Preheat a large sauté pan over medium high, add a good drizzle of olive oil, and add the meatballs to the pan, jiggling it just enough so the meatballs don’t stick. Cook until they’re brown all over. Pour the hot tomato sauce onto a large serving platter and top with the meatballs. Sprinkle with parsley and drizzle generously with olive oil. Serves 4.