Meatballs in tomato sauce

15 October 2009
Chances are you've come across recipes for meatballs in tomato sauce but I'm going to recommend mine to you because it's one of those that is perfect for us stockpilers - it uses items from the freezer, garden, pantry and stockpile cupboard.

The trick to this dish, and most other meat dishes, is to develop flavour in the meat by caramelising the sugars when you fry it. Caramelising is the process where you add a little oil to the frying pan, add the meat balls and let them fry to a brown stage without burning. The brownness that develops during that stage adds a huge amount of flavour to the final dish. Adding uncooked meatballs to a sauce will not give you the fine flavour that caramelising will. As most of you know, I cook from scratch and don't add bouillon cubes, stock powder, soup mixes or pre-cooked sauces. I prefer to develop the flavour already in the ingredients to build up in stages as I go. The result is a wholesome meal full of flavour but with no preservative or artificial flavours added.


750 grams (2 pounds) minced beef (ground beef)
1 large onion
herbs - I used parsley, oregano, bay and marjoram. You could also use chives, chilli, thyme or basil.
4 slices of old bread
2 eggs
¼ cup milk
salt and pepper

1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
whatever herbs you used in the meatballs, add here too, finely chopped.
several leaves of silverbeet or spinach, chopped
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tin tomatoes - or your home canned tomatoes, about 2 cups
1 teaspoon sugar
salt and pepper

Soak the old bread in the beaten eggs and milk. Finely chop the onion and herbs. I do this in a little processor so it's very fine. These are very small meatballs so your ingredients need to be very finely chopped. Add the meat to a bowl and add the soaked bread, leaving the rest of the egg mixture to one side. Add the chopped onion and herbs and mix with your clean hands. Add salt and pepper to taste. Whatever egg mixture is left over, add now and mix in so the meat and the other ingredients are thoroughly combined. Wash your hands, then with wet hands, form the meat into little balls.

Heat up your frying pan, add a small amount of oil and when the pan is hot, add the meatballs. Turn the balls so that all sides are able to brown. When the meatballs are brown all over, remove them from the pan to a plate and keep them to one side.

To make the sauce:
Use the same pan you fried the meat in. Add the chopped onion and garlic and stir while it cooks. Be careful as the garlic can burn. If it does it will add a bitter taste to you meal. When the onion is soft, add the tomato paste and stir in. Cook for two minute to get the raw taste out of the tomato paste. Add the tomatoes, chopped silverbeet/spinach and herbs and stir. Add salt and pepper to taste and the teaspoon of sugar. The sugar takes the acid taste off the tomatoes. If you're using your own home grown tomatoes, you probably don't need the sugar. Bring the sauce to the boil, then turn the heat right down to a simmer. Add the meatballs and continue cooking, very slowly, for 20 minutes.

Serve with pasta and a garden salad.

This amount is enough for at least two meals for Hanno and I, with a lunch for me to take to work. It can be frozen for a couple of months or whatever your freezer's recommendation is for processed meats or sausages.

I was going to answer a question about cleaning my soap making utensils and using them for other tasks. I have some thoughts that go along nicely with that topic, so I'll write a post about it all tomorrow.

I'll check those registrations now for the members who had trouble registering yesterday. So far we haven't had many problems with the registering and it's much easier than the other forum. The moderators have worked very hard to bring over as many of the old threads as they could manage but we're also keeping the old forum as an archive you can dip into. All the signs indicate that this forum will be better than the old one, it's user friendly and many of the members are used to the format of VBulletin. When we are all settled in, there will be swaps, challenges, competitions and prizes in each of the sections. It's already a bustling community full of people eager to learn and pass on what they know. The atmosphere is calm and friendly and the threads are building up nicely. Over 300 people have signed up in the past 24 hours, why don't you join us?


  1. YUM. that looks lovely!!!! I just had an "aahhh" moment. Just realized Silverbeet and Swiss Chard (and perpetual spinach too I think) are one in the same..... Thanks again for all you share. Emily in So. Texas

  2. Mmmm. This looks delicious! I will definitely try it! Thank you so much for sharing. For some reason I've always had trouble with meatballs staying together- now I know it's because I didn't fry them first! Thanks a lot!
    PS Thanks again for putting up the forum! It's wonderful getting to know so many like minded people and sharing ideas, recipes, and things! :D

  3. You are making me hungry! Nobody else in my family likes meat with spaghetti sauce, so I don't have it too often. But I probably will the next time I make it, and they can just deal with it! :)
    I haven't joined the forum yet, I keep meaning to and will get there in the next couple of days.
    (Emily, I'm from S. Texas, too! But I don't live there anymore).

  4. Looks wonderful! Sounds like a wonderful way to slide some finely diced veggies in too. I think I'll put this recipe on next week's menu. Thanks

  5. Yum yum! We had meatballs with spaghetti sauce last night for dinner, too. What a coincidence! We eat ours with crusty sourdough bread and a spinach salad from the garden. Delicious.

  6. Good morning Rhonda, thanks for a tweak on a recipe similar to one I use, I'll put this on next week's menu. Congrats on the forum change, it's a big job. I'm off to the other move in my life.

  7. Looks delicious!!


  8. Meatballs in tomato sauce are great! I generally use Jamie Oliver's recipe from The Naked Chef which is really tasty, and made from scratch :-)

  9. This looks scrumptious!
    I can't wait to try it...
    Thanks for being so generous & sharing so much!
    Wishing you sweet and simple joys! ♥

  10. Hi Rhonda,

    I'm vegetarian but this would work just as well with vegetarian mince. Might give it a go tonight as I planned on cannelloni so I have all the ingredients. I'll just swap over the cannelloni shells for spaghetti.

    I am also having a give-away tomorrow- very exciting. Not sure if you'd personally be interested but I'm sure some of your readers would so stay tuned. xo Meagan.

  11. Oh Rhonda this sound perfect for dinner tonight .... I will menu plan today!!
    I have mince out already.
    Thanks great timing!

  12. Hi Rhonda,

    This recipe looks yummy!

    I really am enjoying the new forum, but tonight (in USA), your link in the left sidebar still leads to the old forum. Just thought I'd let you know, in case you just hadn't thought to change it yet.

    Thank you for all your work in setting up the forum -- it's a beautiful, peaceful place to be!

    Autumn Hazen

  13. wow - forget about the meal - look at the ingredients! beautiful!!!

  14. Just picked a bag of swiss chard from the lottie. Think I will make up a batch of the sauce and freeze it. Thank you for the recipe.

    Thank you also for all the work on the new forum. It's great to 'talk' to all the lovely people and share our ideas.


  15. Love your recipe, but I have to disagree about the meatballs. We make our meatballs in the crockpot. They simmer all day in the sauce and seasonings, and they are delicious. I used to brown them first, but one day got lazy, and the comments I got were so good that I stopped browning them. I also add chopped (not frozen) spinach and black beans to my meat balls. We use 1lb of pasture beef and are able to get enough meatballs for 1 dinner for 4, and a second dinner of meatballs subs.

    Also I don't like to add sugar to cut the acid (my mums always did this) and I learned from an Italian that you can also add fresh grated parmesean to cut the acid and it add a nice nutty flavor, just 2 Tbsp for a large crock of sauce.

    When we make sauce it simmers all day on low, the sauce itself makes it into at least 5 meals, including pizza (with a broken up meatball or 2).

  16. Why have I never thought of using spinch or greens in the sauce!? Great idea for using up garden greens.

    I make my meatballs using Kangaroo mince. It is far kinder on the environment and is around half the price of beef.

  17. Looks wonderful thank you for the clear directions.

  18. Hi there! Love your blog and you have probably been awarded this before, but I'd like to give you the Honest Scrap award, details are on my blog (no obligations though) ;-)

  19. Perfect post, Rhonda! I wanted to make this for dinner and didn't have a recipe-and then your post popped up. You are fabulous!

    Made it for dinner and it tasted great! Thank you for taking the time to share all of your wonderful goodies with us!

  20. Thank you soooo much. Now I know why my meatballs always seem to be lacking in extra flavour. Because I don't brown them first. I will from now on and will give your recipe a try :)


  21. Thank you for this recipie I made it up over the weekend and my partner and i have had it for the last three nights, two nights with pasta and the last of it on bread rolls tonight. It tastes so good and I swear that it tasted better tonight then it did when I first made it.

    I will be making up a big batch tomorrow to store it the freezer for when I get home from hospital. (I'm 36 weeks pregnant and trying to stock a couple of weeks worth of meals in the freezer)

  22. Cooked this for the first time tonight, the recipe is a keeper. My kids and I loved it.
    There was enough left over from the 3 of us to freeze 3 small meals for lunches.



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