The Dinner Planner

The Best Tuna Meatballs

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Recipe and Image from Jamie Oliver's Jamie's Italian. Be sure to use fresh tuna, not tinned.
Servings 4


Tomato Sauce

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion - peeled and finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves - peeled and finely sliced
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 400g tinned tomatoes
  • red wine vinegar
  • 1 bunch flat-leaf parsley - leaves picked and roughly chopped

Tuna Meatballs

  • 400 grams tuna - fresh
  • 55 grams pine nuts
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 100 grams stale breadcrumbs
  • 25 grams parmesan - grated
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 lemon

To Serve

  • 250 grams spaghetti
  • side salad or steamed greens



  • We prefer to prep the meatballs the night before (or on Sunday) so that you don't have to wait for them to rest for an hour in the fridge. If you do have then time, then by all means make it all in one night,.
  • Chop the tuna up into 2.5cm/1 inch dice. Pour a good couple of tablespoons of olive oil into a large frying pan and place on the heat. Add the tuna to the pan with the pine nuts and cinnamon. Season lightly with salt and pepper and fry for a minute or so to cook the tuna on all sides and toast the pine nuts. Remove from the heat and put the mixture into a bowl. Allow to cool down for 5 minutes, then add the oregano, parsley, breadcrumbs, Parmesan, eggs, and zest and juice of the lemon to the bowl. Using your hands, really scrunch and mix the flavours into the tuna, then divide the mixture and squeeze it into meatballs slightly smaller than a golf ball. If you dip one of your hands in water while shaping you’ll get a nice smooth surface on the meatball. If the mixture’s very sticky, add a few more breadcrumbs. Keep the meatballs around the same size and place them on an oiled tray, then put them in the fridge for an hour to let them rest.


  • Place a large pan on the heat, add a good lug of olive oil, your onion and garlic and fry slowly for 10 or so minutes until soft. Add your oregano, the tomatoes, salt and pepper and bring to the boil. Simmer for 15 minutes or so, then liquidize until smooth. Taste – it might need a tiny swig of red wine vinegar or some extra seasoning.


  • In a large fry pan (or the pan you fried the tuna in) heat on the stove with a little olive oil. Add your meatballs to the pan and jiggle them about until they’re golden brown all over. You might want to do them in batches – when they’re done, add them to the tomato sauce.
  • Once you have transferred the meatballs. Cook the spaghetti in a pot of boiling salted water for 10 minutes. While it is cooking, make a quick side salad or steam your greens.
  • Serve meatballs and sauce on top of spaghetti and sprinkle with parsley.

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