This Roman Meatballs with Arrabbiata Sauce recipe basically came about after experimenting with an idea I had after reading about ancient Roman cooking ingredients. The meatball in tomato sauce, that humble and quintessential meal synonymous with Italy is what’s being served up today, but with a twist of course!
Today I’m serving you my Roman Meatballs with Arrabbiata Sauce. In researching some ideas of ancient cuisines I stumbled across the Roman diet. While not big meat eaters in general, their normal meals consisted of lots of vegetables, herbs, fruits and spices.
For what we consider breakfast it was fruit mixed together with wheat porridge or pancakes topped with dates an honey. Breads, olives and cheeses were the average lunch with the possibility of some sort of meat, but the main meal was vegetables, various sausages, meats like various fowl, seafood and fish with meats notably boiled or fried in olive oil.
My first thought was what happened to the open pit fires for roasting, but I’m sure it was done, just not as popular. I mean I was thinking of Italian pizza ovens and such.
Various dishes were sauced and the Romans love their condiments. One in particular was a mixture of fish, vinegars honey, peppers and herbs and spices. Fermented sauces were big. Consider how today we love our Sriracha, catsup and soy sauces.
While this isn’t a roasted peacock or ostrich, it is a simple and easy to put together meal that is big on flavor and bold in taste. The humble and satisfying meatball!
I decided to incorporate the pine nut and golden raisin, along with red pepper flakes, herbs and cheeses to make this meatball. Simmered in an Arrabbita Sauce, a red pepper spiced tomato sauce, and served over whole wheat spaghetti. With a Type 2 Diabetic in the house here I like to use whole wheat pasta that breaks down slower than regular pasta.
Grate some fresh Parmesan cheese over all and dig in!
For other meatball recipes, try my Stuffed Green Chili Meatballs in Tomatillo Sauce, Persian Meatballs with Dried Cherries and Pistachios, or these Chinese Lemon Chicken Meatballs. Enjoy!
Subscribe to my Newsletter, follow me on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and YouTube for all my latest recipes and videos.
Roman Meatballs with Arrabbiata Sauce
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 small onion diced
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 1/2 cup red wine
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp Italian seasoning
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 28 oz can crushed Italian tomatoes (See Note 1)
- 2 tbsp fresh Italian parsley chopped
- 1 lb ground beef (80/20)
- 1 lb ground pork
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 cup bread crumbs
- 1 tbsp milk
- 1/4 cup parsley chopped
- 1/3 cup golden raisins (sultanas)
- 1/3 cup pinenuts
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1/2 cup parmesan cheese shredded
- 1/2 cup Romano cheese shredded
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes
- In a large skillet, heat the oil over a medium-high flame and add the onion and garlic and sauté for 3 minutes.
- Reduce the heat to medium and add the wine, tomato paste, sugar, Italian Seasoning, red pepper flakes and salt and sauté for 2 minute.
- Add the tomatoes, stir and simmer until reduced slightly, about 20 minutes. Season the sauce with more salt to taste. Stir in fresh chopped parsley and use over any pasta dish or meatballs.
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- Mix all ingredients in a bowl thoroughly. Roll into 16 balls and arrange on a lined baking sheet or pan with sides. Bake for 20 minutes.
- Remove from pan and add to a stock pot with the arrabbiata sauce. Simmer for 15 minutes. Serve over pasta of choice.
- I use San Marzano crushed tomatoes or whole (drain is using whole) and crush with my hands into the sauce. Using canned diced tomatoes or a tomato puree just has extra water. If you prefer to use fresh tomatoes, I use Roma (plum) tomatoes, they are meatier and it's best to buy 2 pounds for this recipe.
The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist's advice.
Been having a craving for wholesome meatballs with my pasta for awhile, and made these Roman Meatballs with the Arrabbiata sauce. Thank you, so tasty and satisfying! However, used half ground chicken and beef (only had onhand), and substituted sunflower seeds for the pine nuts.
The Arrabbiata sauce is similar to my own Spaghetti sauce, but my personal taste added more sugar. All your cooking looks amazing…
Thanks so much Charlene, glad you enjoyed!
And now I’m starving. These sound absolutely incredible and I’m relieved that they don’t involve roasted peacock.
No peacocks were hurt during the making of this recipe. 😉
I haven’t had meatballs in forever, and I’ve never had arrabbiata sauce. Sounds like it should be made with a rabbit! Thanks for the recipe.
You bet Jeff. The spicy arrabbiata sauce works so well with these meatballs. I am a HUGE meatball fan and am always trying out new ways with them. Although I have yet to try rabbit myself. Putting that one on the list, just not something one sees much these days. At least out here in SoCal.
Now that is what I call flavorful meatballs, they sound different and delicious.
Well worth trying Karen, really. Hope this finds you doing well. 🙂
Well, my diet is full of fruit, veggies, oats, nuts, and bread. Good news: I’m a Roman. Perhaps, ancient:) Although I’m not a huge fan of raisins in meat, these meatballs look and sound great to me!
The golden raisins add just a nice sweet touch and I love the crunch of the pine nuts, too. The spicy arrabbiata sauce counters it all beautifully Ben. Thanks!
Oh Kevin! I love this post! I do the same sometimes, I try to look into what people use to eat before us! I will be making this recipe on Saturday, I just have to try it! You make it so easy to share your fantastic recipes!!
You are too kind and I really do appreciate it Gaila. I love to read about historical cooking, kitchens and techniques. 🙂
Raisins and pine nuts in the meatballs? What a great idea for more flavor. So hearty and perfect for the cold, dark, rainy weather we are having!
I hear ya Karen, these sure hit the spot!
I see these in my future real soon, Kevin, like this upcoming weekend (and yes I’m already planning the weekend, lol). Hubby and I went out last week and one of the apps we had was a small dish with 3 meatballs. We weren’t going to get it, but the waitress raved about how good they were, so we did. While they were good, I was thinking that I could do better….home cooking is always the best, right? Anyway, I’m confident that these meatballs would blow the ones we had at the restaurant out of the water….or tomato sauce….hahaha 😀… Read more »
I love to go to restaurants and remake the dish at home, its fun and a great challenge. A recent one was the Baja Yellowtail Tostadas that turned out even better than the restaurants! I think you’ll really like these Dawn and I love the arrabbiata sauce makes a great foil to the savory and sweet meatballs. Cheers!
You and I are so much on the same food wavelength. I also love researching ancient cuisines and Roman was one of my favs to read about. For years I’ve actually been meaning to do a post on it, but I haven’t gotten around to it yet…I need to! Your meatballs look outstanding!
Thanks so much Faith! I think looking back in history, researching and seeing how it was done is fascinating. The book is so good and I have lots of other ideas coming. 🙂
Where’s the recipe for the arrabiatta sauce? It’s not in the meatball recipe.
Thanks so much for bringing that to my attention Michele. I recently had some big changes done to the site and a few things regarding the recipes glitched. I just updated this recipe plugin for the site and as you can see the recipe style has changed and also includes nutrition information now as well. Here is the link to my Homemade Arrabbiata Sauce. It is in another post.
So as I pondered sending you cauliflower cake I thought to myself – mmmm – what would I like Kevin to send me? And this was it! This’ll hit the spot! In a big way!!! We can do that! How can we do that? hahah! 🙂
If we were only neighbors, right? That just looked outstanding, I had to ask! We need a Star Trek transporter, stat. 🙂
I freshly discovered your blog and your recipes are so delicious and comforting. I absolutely love your meatballs in arrabbiata sauce, I need to try that home 😉
Thanks so much for visiting and commenting. I just visited your site as well. I want those Golden Lantern Cupcakes, stunning! 🙂