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Meatballs in Tomato Sauce

Making meatballs reminds me of languid days in Cebu when my mom would cook spaghetti with meatballs for the family. Later on, the house help learned to make meatballs as well using Omnipork, a plant-based substitute for pork, when my parents went vegetarian on certain days of the month. The recipe calls for egg to bind the ground meat (or meat substitute) with salt, pepper, anise or fennel seeds, and half cup each of parmesan and panko or bread crumbs; however, it is also possible to make this vegan by replacing the eggs with 6 tablespoons of plain yoghurt, and using a full cup of bread crumbs or panko, instead of the cheese.

You may also use the stovetop or induction cooker to cook the meatballs. If you prefer this method, make sure to use a deep round pan with a lid on. The meatballs may be accompanied by cooked pasta, preferably penne or rigatoni. Once the meatballs are cooked or baked thoroughly, toss in the cooked pasta shells into the baking pan, sprinkle some grated cheese and rosemary leaves, and bake it for a third time, for up to 10 minutes at 180C for a final flourish.


Cooking time: 25 minutes

Baking time: 30 minutes

Yields: 15 large meatballs or 23 medium meatballs


500 grams ground beef (you can also substitute with ground pork, chicken, turkey or OmniPork)

1.5 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon anise seeds

1/2 cup bread crumbs or panko

1/2 cup grated parmesan

2 large eggs

3 tablespoons olive oil

400 grams tomato puree

1/2 cup ricotta cheese, crumbled

1. Thaw ground meat in a medium bowl. Toss in salt, black pepper, red pepper flakes, oregano, anise seeds, bread crumbs and parmesan. Break 2 large eggs and combine all the ingredients together. Set aside.

2. Preheat oven to 230 degrees Celsius. Meanwhile, scoop a heaping tablespoon of ground meat mixture and roll into a ball using the palms of your hand. Repeat until you get between 15 to 23 meatballs (it really depends on how big you want your meatballs). mLine them on a glass or ceramic baking dish . Drizzle pan and meatballs with olive oil.

Use both hands to roll the ground meat mixture into a round lump. You can adjust the size, depending on the number of meatballs you want.

3. Roast the meatballs for 20 minutes until firm. Or, if you are using the stovetop method, heat deep skillet pan with 1.5 tablespoons of olive oil at medium heat. Gently place meatballs on skillet, cover with lid, and just allow it to cook on its own for about 15 minutes. For the stovetop, you may need to repeat the process twice, unless you have a large enough skillet that can fit 23 meatballs.

4. Remove the baking pan and pour in tomato puree and ricotta crumbles, gently coating the meatballs. Put back in the oven and roast for another 10 minutes. If using the stovetop or induction, do the same, and put lid back on to cook meatballs for another 8 to 10 minutes, in medium-low heat. Turn off heat. Toss in cooked penne or other tubed pasta such as rigatoni. Coat evenly and serve.


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