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Pork and Fennel Meatballs with Puttanesca Sauce

Serves 4 - 6
Prep time: 30mins
Cooking time: 30mins

Meatballs are certainly not traditionally added to a puttanesca sauce but it’s always been well-received whenever I’ve served it to friends.



  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • ¼–½ teaspoon chilli flakes, or to taste
  • 3 anchovy fillets, chopped (I used Ortiz)
  • 3 tablespoons capers
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano (Sicilian if possible)
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 x 400-gram tins whole cherry tomatoes
  • 20 pitted black olives
  • good handful basil leaves, ripped
  • Meatballs:
  • 2 slices white toast bread, crusts removed
  • ⅓ cup milk
  • 600 grams pork mince
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds, toasted
  • olive oil, for frying
  • sea salt and ground pepper
  • To serve:
  • 400 grams cooked spaghetti
  • parmesan, for grating
View the method


  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan and cook the onion with a good pinch of salt until soft. Add the garlic, chilli, anchovies, capers, oregano and the tomato paste and cook for 2 minutes. 
  2. Add the tomatoes and bring to the boil then reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Taste and add salt if needed.  


  1. Rip the bread into small pieces and place in a large bowl with the milk. Mix together so all the bread is wet and leave for 10 minutes. 
  2. Add all the remaining ingredients, season generously and combine well. 
  3. Form into walnut-sized balls. You should get about 18. 
  4. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large sauté pan and cook the meatballs until golden and cooked through. 

To serve: Add the olives, basil and meatballs to sauce. Place the hot spaghetti on a serving platter and pour over the sauce. Serve immediately and grate over plenty of parmesan and garnish with basil if desired.  

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