Polpettine d’agnello con sugo di pomodoro

The title of this recipe translated in English would be “mini lamb meatballs in tomato sauce” but I thought the Italian name sounded so much nicer so I used that instead…. Clever, don’t you think? After all this is the tactic posh restaurants use, is it not? Call your dishes with foreign names (usually French) and they immediately sound more sophisticated and expensive. Never mind if people don’t have a clue what they are eating. :-)   Anyway, I hadn’t made meatballs in a very long time and last night I decided I fancied some. Don’t ask me why. I had some organic lamb mince in the fridge I had to use so I thought I would have a go. Making polpette (or meatballs) takes me back to when I was a child and I was watching my grandma cooking. She often made them and yummy they were too. I used to help her to mix all the ingredients and loved every minute of it. Although I have made them with lamb you can use beef mince too. The recipe is enough for 3/4 people.

Start by making the tomato sauce: shallow fry a small chopped onion in some olive oil together with a couple of cloves of garlic. Add 2 tins of chopped tomatoes, one heaped teaspoon of origano, half a teaspoon of sugar and salt (I use a vegetable stock). Let it simmer for 20 minutes. In the meantime make the meatballs.


500 gr. of minced lamb (or beef)

1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary

1 slice of white bread (remove the crust)

1 small clove of garlic

a pinch of dried chilli flakes (more if you like it hot)

1 heaped teaspoon of mixed dried herbs

1 heaped teaspoon ground cumin

one egg yolk

salt and pepper

a couple of spoonfuls of fresh chopped  parsley and grated parmesan (for the topping)


Put the bread in the food processor and whiz until you have fine breadcrumbs. Add all the other ingredients (minus the parsley and the parmesan) and mix well. Wet your hands and procede to form little meatballs. I made about 12. Fry them in a large pan with a little bit of olive oil until they are brown. Put the tomato sauce in an oven dish and add the meatballs. Make sure you spoon some tomato sauce over each one. Sprinkle some fresh parsley on the top and a couple of spoonfuls of grated parmesan. Bake in the oven at 200 degrees for 20 minutes. I served them with boiled new potatoes and steamed savoy cabbage to which I added some tarragon and fennel seeds. They would be lovely with mashed potatoes too or indeed you could use them to dress pasta. Why not? They were really tasty, I promise you!!

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4 Responses to “Polpettine d’agnello con sugo di pomodoro”

  • Ci credo. Adoro le polpette, specialmente se ho saltato il pasto come oggi. Ma che cavolo sono i savoy cabbage? Urge, urge un glossario di frutta e verdura…
    Hai ragione anche fare le polpette è bello, forse c’entra qualcosa il manipolare… Prevedo più di una ricetta polpettosa. Di agnello per esempio non le ho mai fatte.

  • It’s the “cavolo verza”! Of all the different types of cabbage it’s the one I prefer. Mind you: I am no cabbage fan! But it was in my veggies box. The choice was to make it or to let it rot at the bottom of the fridge…:-/ Making polpette is definitely a way to relieve stress. Can you find minced lamb in Italy, by the way?

  • Ma come!??? Stai esagerando adesso!! Intere regioni italiane sono rinomate per l’agnello… by the way.

  • Ok ok, you got me there! :-)

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