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  • Writer's pictureRomyL

Homemade Red Pepper, Garlic, and Sage Meatballs

Updated: May 19, 2021

Feeds 5-6 people


I have never struggled to cultivate relationships; absolutely I have been rejected, dismissed, ignored, even insulted, but widely, I know how to fashion a rapport with most people I meet. This ability is muted however, when it comes to your own parents. I have had a solid relationship with my father my whole life, but as a young adult woman, we both had to work through that cumbersome, ugly transition. You know the one - from child to friend, teenager to adult, girl to woman. Only recently do I think we've hit that sweet spot, and I attribute a lot of that, in part, to my ability to make palatable food.

My father is a simple man, and his tastebuds are too - much to my dismay. At McDonalds he would wait with bated breath for 8 year old me to - as I always did - exclaim how full I was and I how couldn't eat one more bite of my cheeseburger and chicken nuggets. Without hesitation his stubby, dad fingers would paw the food off of my tray and he would inhale the grub, never stopping to chew. That's quite unfair to my father's hands actually, he is a gruff man who likes rugby, golf, and steak - but he loves a good manicure. I've always known that he loves red meat; simple, western meals that my mum makes for him is his schtick. So the giddy expression of joy he parades around when I tell him we are having one of his favourite meals, is like pure, salted butter on a stack of pancakes - it's so good.

Yesterday I made the man homemade meatballs and pasta, and his school-boy frolic through the kitchen was very polar to his tough, managerial posturing he does 95% of the day. I confidently refer to my father as my best friend and honestly, the fact that a simple bowl of pasta gets him out of his seat is one of the reasons why. I hope you can share these meatballs with your father, or mother, or whomever you love to cook for. I am grateful that a hunk of meat mush can do so much for us, I hope it does the same for you.


  • You can use these in any sauce you like, but the recipe below is a simple, spicy tomato one to accompany our spicy meatballs.

  • Try tying your basil leaves together before putting them in your sauce, this will make it easier to fish them out later.

  • The chilli hit isn't as bad as you may think however, if you aren't a big fan of spice, just use mild chillies and skip the chilli flakes.

  • Any pasta will do, whatever your favourite is! I opted for rotini today but linguine and spaghetti are perfect for meatballs.

  • If you can't find roasted red peppers, no biggy. But if you have some time on your hands, why not roast your own! You can find the way to do it in my Roasted Red Pepper Pasta recipe.




  • 750 grams of minced beef

  • 1 red pepper, diced

  • 1 white onion, diced

  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed

  • 1 birds eye chilli, deseeded and diced

  • 3 tablespoons of mild olive oil or vegetable oil

  • 1/4 cup of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped

  • 2/3 cup of Panko breadcrumbs

  • 1 egg

  • 1/2 teaspoon of onion powder

  • 1 teaspoon of salt

  • 1 teaspoon of cracked black pepper

  • 1 teaspoon of dried, rubbed sage

  • 1/2-1 teaspoon of chilli flakes


  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil

  • 1 white onion, diced

  • 5 cloves of garlic, finely chopped or sliced

  • 1 teaspoon of salt

  • 1 teaspoon of cracked black pepper

  • 1 teaspoon of chilli flakes

  • 2 cans of crushed tomatoes

  • 2 roasted red peppers, pureed in a food processor or blender*

  • 1 tablespoon of sugar

  • 1 bunch of basil leaves

  • 1 pound of pasta of your choosing (Spaghetti is a perfect one!)

  • 1/2 cup of grated parmesan (for serving)

  • Extra basil leaves (for serving)


  1. Preheat your oven to 180℃. Line a large baking tray with baking paper.

  2. Mix together all of your meatball ingredients in a large bowl using your hands to break down the mince and really incorporate all the ingredients.

  3. Rub a little bit of olive on your palms. Take two tablespoons of the mixture and roll it together until you reach a ball shape. You don't have to have a perfect sphere! Repeat this step until you have used all of your mixture.

  4. Place the meatballs a few inches apart on the baking tray and place in the oven for 10-15 minutes (depending on the size). If you opt for a larger size, you might need slightly more time. Whilst the meatballs are baking, prepare your sauce and pasta.

  5. Boil your pasta in a pot of heavily salted water until al dente. Save 1 cup of pasta water!

  6. Whilst your pasta is boiling, place a pan over a medium heat. Add in your olive oil. Once glistening (hot) add in your diced onions. Sauté your onions until translucent (about 5 minutes). Add in your crushed or sliced garlic. diced chillies, salt, pepper, and chilli flakes. Sauté for a further minute or until the garlic is fragrant.

  7. Add your pasta water and reduce it down by half. Add in your crushed tomatoes, red pepper puree, sugar, and basil bunch. Bring to the boil then reduce to a simmer and cover for 15-20 minutes.

  8. When ready to serve, remove the basil leaves, stir the meatballs into the sauce and serve over the pasta. Serve with a heaping of fresh parmesan and basil.


* How to roast your own red peppers: Cut them in half and remove the stem and seeds. Place them on a lined baking tray, cut-side down, and roast them in an oven at 230℃, for 15-20 minutes or until the skin is very charred (should have large black spots). Then cover them with aluminium foil for 10 minutes - to make them easier to peel. Peel off the charred skin and you now have roasted red peppers!

Stay Salty,

Romy xx

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