Lamb Meatballs in Tomato and Red-wine Sauce

Serve this meatballs-and-sauce recipe as an appetizer over hoagies for a fun and delicious meal.

by Dani Yokhna
Lamb Meatballs in Tomato and Red-wine Sauce. Photo by Virginia Pinkston (
Photo by Virginia Pinkston

Yield: 24 small meatballs


Tomato Sauce

  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 1 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 3 T. finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 fresh or 2 dried bay leaves
  • 1 3-inch cinnamon stick
  • 1/2 tsp. ground allspice
  • 1/2 tsp. dried red chili flakes or to taste (optional)
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 2 pounds fresh tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped, with juice
  • 1/2 tsp. coarse sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper


  • 1 pound ground lamb
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 tsp. finely chopped garlic
  • 2 T. panko crumbs
  • 4 T. finely chopped fresh mint
  • 2 T. finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tsp. lemon zest
  • 1/2 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 T. olive oil


Tomato Sauce
Heat oil in large, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-low heat. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, about 8 minutes. Stir in parsley, bay leaf, cinnamon stick, allspice and chili flakes. Increase heat to medium-high and add wine. Simmer gently for 2 minutes, then add chopped tomatoes. Cover and bring sauce to low simmer. Cook for 30 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool for 15 minutes. Remove bay leaf and cinnamon stick. Add salt and pepper. Purée sauce in blender or food processor until smooth, and return to saucepan.

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Combine all ingredients except olive oil. Form into meatballs about 1½ inches in diameter. In large skillet over medium heat, heat olive oil and add meatballs. Cook until browned on all sides, about 3 to 4 minutes, turning several times.

Remove browned meatballs from pan and add to sauce, turning to coat. Cover and bring sauce to low simmer. Stirring gently two or three times, cook meatballs in sauce for 6 to 7 minutes until meatballs are just cooked through. Serve as appetizers, over cooked rice or as sandwiches on crusty bread.


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