Gino D'Acampo

Herby Veal Meatballs with Parmesan & Pine Nuts in Tomato Sauce

“A fantastic recipe to make with your children”
– Gino D’Acampo

Fans of Mafia movies will be aware of the immense popularity of meatballs in Sicily, for instance the memorable scene in ‘The Godfather’ where ‘Fat Pete’ Clemenza shows young Michael Corleone the ‘proper’ way to cook them. When I was touring Sicily, I visited Bar Vitelli, where The Godfather was filmed. I chatted to Dario (the owner’s son) about the making of the movie and then cooked him my own version of meatballs.

Rice with cranberries, lemon and parsley makes a great accompaniment.

Serves 6


– 1kg minced veal
– 150g fresh white breadcrumbs
– 100g freshly grated Parmesan cheese
– 50g pine nuts, chopped
– 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
– 1 large egg, beaten
– Juice and grated zest of 1 unwaxed lemon
– 4 tablespoons olive oil
– 180ml dry white wine
– 2 tablespoons tomato purée
– 500ml hot beef stock
– 4 bay leaves
– Salt and freshly ground black pepper


Place the veal, breadcrumbs, Parmesan, pine nuts, parsley, eggs and lemon zest and juice in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Mix well with your hands until everything is thoroughly combined.

Using dampened hands, take small amounts of the veal mixture and roll into 5cm balls (about the size of a golf ball). It should make about 30 meatballs.

Heat the oil in a large flameproof casserole over a high heat. Add the meatballs and fry for about 5 minutes until browned on all sides, turning carefully. You may need to do this in batches. Remove and drain on kitchen paper.

Increase the heat to high and pour the wine into the casserole. Bring to the boil and let it bubble for 2 minutes, scraping up any crispy bits from the bottom of the pan.

Stir in the tomato purée and return the browned meatballs to the casserole. Add the stock and bay leaves and bring to a simmer. Cover and simmer for a further 15 minutes.

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