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Beef and fennel Meatballs

When fennels are in season, I usually make this rich tomato sauce and meatball dish. The fennel seeds go into the meatballs along with lots of Parmesan. A fennel bulb goes into the sauce which enriches the aroma and sweetness of the tomato sauce. The best tomato sauce in my book and always best made fresh at home.

meatballs in tomato sauce
meatballs in tomato sauce

This is a simple and easy dish that requires good quality fresh ingredients. Freshly grated Parmesan and breadcrumbs give a creamy and crushy taste to the meatballs.Crushed fennel seeds lend in subtle herby aroma which works really well with Parmesan.

A whole fennel bulb make this tomato sauce richer and thicker than normal. It is best served with crusty bread to mop up the delicious sauce.


Serve 4

Prep time 20 minutes

Cook time 30 minutes



  • 500g beef mince

  • 50g grated parmesan

  • 1 tsp fennel seeds crushed

  • 50g fresh breadcrumbs

  • 2 garlic clovesk, crushed

  • 2 tbsp olive oil

  • 1 onion, finely chopped

  • 1 fennel bulb, finely chopped

  • 1 carrot, finely chopped

  • 400g tin chopped tomatoes

  • a pinch of sugar

For the meatballs

  1. Put the beef, parmesan, fennel seeds, breadcrubms and garlic in a bowl. Season and mix well. Roll into walnut-sized balls.

  2. Heat the oil in a pan over a medium heat and brown the meatballs then remove to a plate.

For the sauce

  1. Blitz onion, fennel and carrot in a food processor for 30 seconds to chop them finely not to puree.

  2. Heat 2 tbsp of oil in a saucepan and fry the vegetables until soft and golden.

  3. Add the tomatoes, fill the tin with water and add to the pan.

  4. Add sugar then bring to boil and return the meatballs to the sauce.

  5. Simmer till the meatballs cooked and the sauce thickens.

  6. Scatter the feathery part of the fennel on top and serve with bread.

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