Meatballs and Macaroni in Puttanesca Sauce

Puttanesca is a sauce of capers, olives, tomatoes and anchovies. Traditionally, it's served with spaghetti in a dish known as 'whore's pasta'. the origins of its name are debatable, but one thing’s for certain - it makes an easy, quick, cheap and delicious pasta sauce!

Preparation Time: 40 minutes


Cooking Time: 55 minutes


Ingredients (serves 12):

  • 250ml (1 cup) milk
  • 1/2 loaf (about 300g) sourdough bread, crusts removed, torn into small pieces
  • 2 small carrots, halved
  • 3 onions, halved
  • 6 cloves garlic, halved
  • 60ml (1/4 cup) olive oil, plus extra, to shallow-fry
  • 750g each minced veal and pork
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 bunch mint, leaves picked, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 80g (1 cup) parmesan, finely grated, plus extra, to serve
  • 750g long macaroni (see note) or spaghetti 

  •  Puttanesca sauce

  • 60g butter
  • 2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 45g can anchovy fillets, drained, finely chopped
  • 50g (1/4 cup) baby capers
  • 1 tsp dried chilli flakes
  • 2 x 690g bottles passata (sieved puréed tomatoes)
  • 2 x 400g cans Italian chopped tomatoes
  • 200g pitted kalamata olives, roughly chopped



  1. To make meatballs, place milk and bread in a bowl. Using your fingers, crumble bread into milk.
  2. Grate carrots, onions and garlic in a food processor using the coarse grater attachment. Heat oil in a frying pan over high heat. Add the vegetable mixture and cook, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes or until soft. Cool.
  3. Place the bread mixture, vegetable mixture, veal and pork mince, eggs, mint, oregano, parmesan and 2 tbs salt in a large bowl. Season with pepper, then, using your hands, mix well. Using damp hands, roll slightly heaped tablespoons of mixture into balls.
  4. Fill a large frying pan 2cm deep with oil and heat over medium heat. Cook meatballs, in 4 batches, turning, for 3 minutes or until browned but not cooked through. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towel. Transfer to a large casserole or roasting pan.
  5. Preheat oven to 200C. To make sauce, heat butter and oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and anchovies, and stir for 2 minutes or until anchovies dissolve. Add the remaining ingredients and 1 tsp salt, stir to combine, then bring to a simmer.
  6. Pour the sauce over the meatballs and bake for 30 minutes or until the meatballs are cooked through.
  7. Meanwhile, cook pasta in 2 large saucepans of boiling salted water until al dente. Drain.
  8. Divide pasta and meatballs among bowls and serve with extra parmesan.


Available from delis.
Tips: to make quick work of shaping meatballs, use a small ice-cream scoop, available from specialist kitchen shops.

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