Meatballs with Olives

Serves 4


  • 250 g/9 oz. /1 cup peeled shallots
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 450 g/1 lb minced/ground beef
  • 2 tbsps. fresh white or wholemeal breadcrumbs
  • 3 tbsps. freshly chopped basil
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsps. olive oil
  • 5 tbsps. ready-made pesto
  • 5 tbsps. mascarpone cheese
  • 50 g/2 oz. /5 tbsps. pitted and halved black/ripe olives
  • 275 g/10 oz. /3 ΒΌ cups thick pasta noodles
  • freshly chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • fresh flat-leaf parsley sprigs, to garnish
  • freshly grated Parmesan cheese, to serve


Chop 2 of the shallots finely and place in a bowl with the garlic, beef, breadcrumbs, basil and seasoning to taste. With damp hands, bring the mixture together and shape into small balls about the size of an apricot. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and cook the meatballs for 8-10 minutes, turning occasionally. until browned and the beef is tender. Remove and drain on absorbent paper towels.

Slice the remaining shallots, add to the pan and cook for 5 minutes until softened. Blend the pesto and mascarpone together, then stir into the pan with the olives. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and return the meatballs to the pan. Simmer for 5-8 minutes until the sauce has thickened and the meatballs are cooked thoroughly.

Meanwhile, bring a large saucepan of lightly salted water to the boil and cook the noodles for 8-10 minutes or until al dente. Drain the noodles, reserving 2 tablespoons of the cooking liquor. Return the noodles to the pan with the cooking liquor and pour in the sauce. Stir the noodles, then sprinkle with chopped parsley. Garnish with a few sprigs of parsley and serve immediately with grated Parmesan cheese.

Buon Appetito!