Recipe: Meatballs with Cinnamon Tomato Sauce & Orzo

Comfort food at its best — meatballs packed with herbs, lemon and parmesan and baked in a fragrant, cinnamon-spiked tomato sauce. 

Recipe and photo: Emma Boyd


For the meatballs:
500g beef mince
1 small brown onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
zest of 1 lemon
30g parmesan, finely grated
½ cup breadcrumbs
1 egg
1/3 cup parsley, finely chopped
1/3 cup mint, finely chopped

For the tomato sauce:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 brown onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tins chopped tomatoes
1 cinnamon quill

400g orzo, cooked as per packet instructions, to serve
parmesan, to serve
parsley, to garnish


Heat oven to 180°C. Put all the ingredients for the meatballs into a bowl and mix well using clean hands. Roll into walnut-sized balls. Then, heat a heavy-bottomed frying pan with a glug of olive oil and brown the meatballs on all sides.

While the meatballs are cooking, make the sauce. Heat the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat and fry the onion and garlic until soft and translucent, taking the time to develop the flavour and sweetness.

Add in the tomatoes and the cinnamon stick and season with sea salt, then reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes or until reduced and fragrant.

Put the tomato sauce into an oven-proof dish with a lid. Add the meatballs and stir to coat. Replace the lid and cook for 45 minutes. Remove and serve over the cooked orzo, garnished with parmesan and parsley. Serves 6

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NZ Life and Leisure This article first appeared in NZ Life & Leisure Magazine.

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