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March 29, 2012 / An Anthology of Clouds

Jamie Oliver’s Tuna Meatballs

Well, I feel a little guilty including a non-vegetarian option here, especially using a fish as expensive, over-fished and pollution-prone as the tuna. I can’t really justify it, except that these meatballs are so light and amazing. I’ve started doubling the recipe in order to freeze them/keep them around as leftovers. They are cinnamony, citrusy, pine-nut studded and freaking delicious. Jamie recommends that you can do a swordfish/tuna mix, but specifies that it cannot be canned. It’s medium-time-intensive, but so worth it.

for the tomato sauce:
olive oil
1 small onion, peeled
4 cloves of garlic, finely sliced
1 tsp dried oregano
2 x 400 g tins (one large tin) plum tomatoes
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
red wine vinegar
a small bunch of fresh flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped

for the meatballs:
400g/14oz/scant 1 pound tuna
olive oil
55g/2 ounces/ a few small handfuls pine nuts
1 tsp ground cinnamon
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
a handful of parsley leaves, chopped
100 g/ 3 ounces stale breadcrumbs
55 g/ 2 ounces grated Parm
2 eggs
zest and juice of one lemon

First, make your sauce. Place a large pan on the heat, add a good glug of olive oil, your onion and garlic and fry slowly for 10 or so min until soft. Add the oregano, tomatoes, salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Simmer for 15 min or so and then liquidize (or don’t…. I just break up the chunks a bit with a knife). Taste. It might need a tiny swig of red wine vinegar or some seasoning.

While the tomatoes are simmering, chop the tuna up into 1 inch dice. Pour a couple of tbs olive oil into a large frying pan and place on the heat. Add the tuna to the pan with the pinenuts and cinnamon. Season lightly with salt and pepper and fry for a few min till the tuna is cooked on all sides and the pine nuts are toasted. Remove from the heat and put the mixture into a bowl. Allow to cool down for 5 min, then add the oregano, parsley, breadcrumbs, Parm, eggs, lemon zest and juice to the bowl. Using your hands, scrunch and squeeze the flavors into the tuna. Then make the 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. Keep the meatballs on an oiled tray and place them in the fridge for an hour to rest.

Put the pan you fried the tuna in back on the heat with a little olive oil. Add your meatballs to the pan and jiggle them about till they’re golden brown all over. You’ll probably need to do them in batches. When they’re done, add them to the tomato sauce, sprinkle with chopped parsley and drizzle with good quality olive oil. Great served with spaghetti or linguine.

(Note, I usually change, streamline or etc. the recipes but in this case it’s word for word from Jamie.)



Leave a Comment
  1. lanceblair / Mar 29 2012 3:01 am

    These sound delicious. As a vegetarian version, it strikes me that this could work as a new spin on Falafel.

  2. ivalleria / Mar 29 2012 11:09 am

    Actually, since one of their advantages is how light they are, maybe a veggie version would be good.

  3. Eileen / Mar 31 2012 6:56 pm

    Those do sound really amazing. I wonder what kind of more sustainable fish might work as a substitute? I think I’d have to sub out the pine nuts as well–I don’t know about you guys, but at my neighborhood store they’re $24.99/lb! ZOMG NO

  4. ivalleria / Apr 1 2012 12:23 pm

    ZOMG Eileen you are so right about the pine nuts. My husband bought them, as he is the type to blindly buy whatever a recipe calls for without asking himself “how will we use the REST of this $8.99 tub of mascarpone?”. So I’ve had them in the freezer for a while and ladle them out like gold dust. Usually I don’t think they’re worth the price, but they do add a perfect texture contrast to these tuna balls. Tell us if you come up with a substitution…..

  5. Jamie Rich / Feb 27 2013 3:48 pm

    These sound amazing and I’m going to try this out for sure. We used canned tuna for so many things (guess I should feel guilty now) but I’m excited about knowing what I can do with the fresh stuff! We usually love Jamie Oliver’s recipes and the writer has inspired me to give this one a whirl too. Think my 6-year-old picky eater will like them?

  6. ivalleria / Feb 28 2013 12:47 am

    Hey Jamie! I love Jamie Oliver’s recipes too. Do you have his Italian cookbooks? This is from there. My four-year-old picky eater will not eat these. The flecks of green stuff and the pine nuts render it totally no-go. But she’s very, very picky. I hope yours is less! Also, I feel less guilty about canned tuna for some reason. Maybe it’s thrift starts outweighing it’s environmental badness. What I really have a secret love for is canned chicken!!

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