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Delicious Italian meatball pasta recipe

Italian food is adored around the world for its wonderful mix of flavours. Reader Mike Mortlock, from New Zealand, has a family Italian meatball pasta recipe he has shared with Expat Living readers. “This is one of my family favourites, and is always referred to as ‘Dad’s secret meatball recipe he found on the internet!’ He’s tweaked it over the years, and we all think it’s absolutely delicious,” Mike says.

Makes four servings

easy Meatball pasta recipe


• 4 sprigs fresh rosemary
• 12 Meiji plain crackers
• 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
• 500g minced beef
• 1 tablespoon dried oregano
• 1 large egg
• Salt and pepper
• Olive oil for drizzling
• 1 bunch fresh basil, chopped
• 1 medium onion, chopped
• 2 cloves garlic, crushed
• 800g (two tins) diced Italian tomatoes or 1 jar passata (uncooked tomato puree)
• 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
• 400g spaghetti or penne
• Parmesan cheese, for grating


1. Chop rosemary leaves. Then, place crackers in a ziplock bag and smash them up until the crumbs are fine. Add cracker crumbs, mustard, minced meat, chopped rosemary leaves and oregano to a mixing bowl, then add salt and pepper.

2. With clean hands, scrunch and mix up well. Divide into four large balls. With wet hands, divide each ball into six and roll into little meatballs. Drizzle with olive oil and keep covered in refrigerator until needed.

3. While boiling water for the pasta, heat a large frying pan on medium heat, add olive oil and then the meatballs. Stir them around, and cook for 8 to 10 minutes until golden and cooked through. Set aside on a plate and cover with tin foil.

4. You can use the same frying pan (on medium heat) to make the sauce: Add in the onion and cook until soft. Then add garlic and cook until lightly coloured before throwing in the basil. Toss in the tomatoes and balsamic vinegar. Bring to a boil and season to taste.

5. Add meatballs to the sauce and simmer while the pasta cooks in another pot. Saving a splash of the cooking water, drain the pasta into a colander. Return the pasta to the pot with the reserved water, spoon half the tomato sauce into the pasta and toss it around.

6. Serve pasta topped with meatballs, the extra sauce and Parmesan.


Send us a recipe! If you have a favourite dish you’d like to submit for an upcoming issue, please send an email titled “Recipe Corner” to contribute@expatliving.hk with your recipe, a photo of yourself, and a few words about your dish.

See more in our wine & dine section:

Best Sunday brunch places in Hong Kong

Best Hong Kong rooftop bars

Where to find the best ice cream in Hong Kong

This article first appeared in the October/November 2018 issue of Expat Living magazine. Subscribe now so you never miss an issue