This year my New Year’s resolution includes making more meatballs, so it seemed like a perfect time to share my go-to recipe. You might be asking yourself, why such a lofty goal to start the new year? It starts with my childhood. Meatballs simmered in tomato gravy were generally reserved for holidays and birthdays, I think mostly because that’s when my extended family would all gather under the same roof. For some reason, I unknowingly have followed this tradition, even though meatballs are versatile enough to surely be enjoyed throughout the year. So here’s to new beginnings and many more Sunday dinners with meatballs on the menu.

While they’re mostly known to accompany pasta and served with tomato sauce, that is just the tip of the iceberg lettuce when it comes to their culinary potential. They can be made any size, from teeny-tiny to large, added to soups, served on their own with almost any roasted vegetable, added to sandwiches, crumbled onto pizza, served on top of a bowl full of mashed potatoes or sliced on a pita spread with hummus, etc.

While this recipe stands on its own, and with the addition of red chile flakes and fennel seed is a classic Italian version, this is just one iteration of what is possible. For instance, if I was planning on serving the meatballs with a warm pita and hummus, I might skip the fennel and add toasted coriander and some freshly grated lemon zest to the mixture instead. If I wanted to add the meatballs to a brothy ginger soup, I might use coconut milk to soak the bread and add fresh red chile and curry powder. The point is, follow what tastes good to you while you consider how the meatballs will be served.


Marianne Sundquist is a chef and writer who in 2020 co-founded Stokli, an online general store. Email her at

Popular in the Community