Tuna Meatballs

A delicious alternative to traditional meatballs.

Serves 4


  • ¾ cup 1-inch cubed baguette (from 1/8 baguette, about 2 ½", 1 oz)
  • ½ cup whole milk
  • 1 pound 6 oz tuna, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 2 ounces pancetta, ground by butcher (or substitute finely diced, about ¼ cup)
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ tablespoon thinly sliced garlic (about 2 cloves)
  • 1 whole egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon loosely packed chopped Italian parsley
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Basic tomato sauce


  1. Place food processor bowl and blade in refrigerator until cold, about 10 minutes.

  2. Soak the bread in milk for 1/2 hour then squeeze milk from bread.

  3. Pulse tuna, soaked bread, and pancetta, in food processor until ground (you don't want to run it so much that it heats up).

  4. Place the mixture in a large bowl and refrigerate.

  5. Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a 10-12" saute pan over medium heat.

  6. Add the garlic and cook until translucent (about 1 ½ minutes).

  7. Transfer oil and garlic to a bowl and place in refrigerator to cool.

  8. Add the cooled garlic and oil, egg, water, parsley, and red pepper flakes to bowl with ground tuna.

  9. Season with ½ teaspoon salt and a few grinds of pepper and mix well (your cleaned hands work best for this).

  10. Heat tomato sauce in a 6-quart pot over low heat.

  11. Form one small meat patty with the mixture from from the mixing bowl.

  12. Heat a little olive oil in a small saute pan and cook meat patty through on both sides (about 4 minutes total) and taste for seasoning.

  13. Adjust seasoning in mixture if necessary.

  14. Form mixture into 20 meatballs (about 1 ¾" round, about 1 ¼ oz each).

  15. Heat remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a 10-12" saute pan over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking.

  16. Cook meatballs in batches until lightly browned all over (about 6 to 8 minutes).

  17. As meatballs are finished, transfer them to the tomato sauce and simmer, partially covered, for one hour on very low heat.

  18. Occasionally stir the sauce gently.

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