Meatballs remind me of my childhood. My mum made amazing meatballs with lots of onion and coriander. Most times they would make it into the tomato sauce, other times, well, mum would look back and find only a couple left in the pan to go into the sauce. All good memories. We had a pretty big kitchen with a breakfast table in it so I would hang around watching her work her magic. Many moons later, I now try and do the same with my son, it’s fun.

One Sunday, I was inspired to make foccacia bread and thought, what better than a rich meatball sauce to accompany the bread. The key to this tangy, herby sauce is the tinned tomatoes. Italians use a lot of fresh and tinned tomatoes for their cooking and I always have tinned tomatoes in my pantry for my tomato sauces. This meatball sauce is just wonderfully hearty. It deserves to be made with love. 

Serves 4


  • 500 grams lean mince
  • 1 large onion finely chopped
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon sage
  • 4 cloves of crushed garlic
  • 1 tablespoon thyme
  • 1 tablespoon ground paprika
  • 1 large bay leaf
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 100 grams black pitted olives
  • 2 tablespoons of tomato paste
  • 100 grams coarsely chopped sun dried tomatoes


  1. In a bowl, place half your onions, half of your herbs except the bay leaf, about a level teaspoon of salt, some pepper and your mince meat. Mix well using your hands, then add your egg and mix again. The meat should have a sticky consistency that holds together.
  2. Use a teaspoon to measure out the meat and roll into balls (you can really have them as big as you want but I think golf ball size is good.) Lay out the balls on a tray and heat up some oil in a frying pan to shallow fry the meatballs. When the oil is hot place in your meatballs and brown them (at this stage they don’t need to cook through.) Once browned, set them aside and drain any excess oil from the pan.
  3. Put your onions into the pan and let them cook until soft. Then, add the sun dried tomatoes, chopped tomatoes, herbs, bay leaf, salt and pepper. Let this simmer for 5 to 10 minutes. Dissolve your tomato paste in 4 cups of water and add this to your tomato mix. Lastly, add your meatballs and gently stir. Cover your pan with a lid and let this simmer gently. After about 15 minutes, take off the heat and serve.

This is a wonderful rich sauce that goes perfectly with spaghetti, or traditional breads like foccaccia or ciabatta.

About The Cherry Tomato

The kitchen is Tamara’s happy place; the smells, colours, textures and flavours. Everything about the kitchen makes her happy—even the tablespoons and hot water.